Mauro C. Martinez
Who or what influences you the most as an artist?
I’ve always wanted my work to be a reflection of the time, so I draw a lot of inspiration from daily experiences. Being in public spaces like airports, subways and hypermarkets like Wal-Mart have become especially meaningful because they are a sort of microcosm and encapsulate the ethos of the 21st century.
Can you talk about the selection and evolution of the iconography in your
There’s a strong sense of irony that has found its way into my work. Again, I feel like it has a lot to do with the time. My iconography has grown to reflect that. Figures in search of meaning often clash and contend with the absurd brands of the present (like inflatables and first aid signage). I’ve become more aware of and intrigued by the ubiquitous nature of those things and how they speak to the collective human experience.
Drop Shadow, oil on canvas, 60x60", 2017
You seem to alternate between working on large-scale paintings and smaller
studies. How do the smaller studies inform your larger pieces, or vice versa, if at all?
Working on mid-sized canvases is difficult for me. I’ll usually either work 8”x10” and under or 5sq/ft and over. Scale for me is a way of dealing with the conceptual problems of context and space, and every size poses a different problem. Because of that I don’t think they inform each other very much.
Availability seems to be something that is important to you- you share your
process with your followers, answer questions from fans, you make affordable
art books and prints. Could you talk about that?
I remember being an artist in high school. I had my handful of favorite artists and I wanted to know anything and everything about their work and life. Social media was very much in its infancy and any resources that were available were very tailored and curated. More than anything, I think I just want to be the artist I wish I had found when I was younger.
You also make some pretty funny memes- do you consider meme-making a
part of your practice? Or do you think of it as something separate that you just
It definitely started as an outlet. Artists and the art world have a set of very curious conventions that make us perfect targets for ridicule. In some ways, I use memes as a way to vent frustrations about some of those conventions. In other ways, I try to normalize unspoken truths/taboos about being an artist (having shows and not selling anything, rejection letters, using projectors). The introduction of memes to my “practice” has also had a very polarizing effect on people. Some started vibing with it right away, and a bunch of people unfollowed me or even verbally attacked me for not being a “serious artist” anymore. The thing is, the mysterious-brooding-tortured-artist paradigm is dead. I’ve got a great sense of humor in real life and I want my social media presence to reflect that.
What excites you the most about your current work, and how do you see it
evolving in the future?
The most exciting thing to me about my work right now is how quickly new work becomes old work. It’ll happen from one painting to the next. It’s frustrating when you’re trying to put together a show, but that’s not why I make art. My goal has never been shows or galleries or sales. They have been a very beautiful and welcomed by-product, and of course I’m infinitely grateful that I get to make my work and people collect it. But my goal is to document the time, push painting as far as it can go, and to make history. When I finish a painting and the one before it pales in comparison, I know I’m on the right track.
Leviathan, oil on canvas, 48x84", 2016
Hemorrhage, oil on canvas, 54x54", 2017