Interview: Mariana De Marchi

Mariana De Marchi is an artist and a sculptor from Argentina. She graduated in 2002 from the National School of Fine Arts Prilidiano Pueyrredón as a National Professor of Drawing. In 2003, she earned the National Professor of Sculpture. Mariana also studied her post graduate work in seminaries of the Superior School of Fine Arts Ernesto de la Carcova, Argentina.

Mariana has obtained numerous first prizes, mainly in drawing, engraving and painting. She has continually participated in different art salons. Her work has been shown in Argentina at the Sans Souci Palace, the Quinta Trabucco, the Museum of Fine Arts Benito Quinquela Martín, and in the National Museum of Fine Arts of Taiwan. Her work has also been shown in Romany, Taiwan and Italy, and has appeared in several foundations and cultural institutions.
She is currently a professor of art in Argentina.

I had the pleasure to get to know Mariana as an artist and as a person, and maybe you will after reading what she has to say below:

Mariana De MarchiCould you tell us a little about yourself, where you´re from, and how did you get started in the urban art scene?
I’m from Argentina. I’ve started to paint walls a few years ago mainly encouraged by a facebook Group called Generation WTF, Chirag Patel and Geoff among others, stimulated me to give the big jump to the walls. I’ve always wanted to paint bigger and in public places but somehow, for some reason or another, I didn’t. I’ve always being curious about different techniques and surfaces. Getting my image bigger in walls was – in a way -the logical next step.

Do you have a formal education?
Yes, I do. I’ve studied at the art college. I have a degree in Drawing and Sculpture. Fortunately the art education during that period was very complete. I’ve specialized in those two disciplines but we also had the chance to paint and learn printmaking during the first two years of the career. Later on I’ve studied lithography and techniques applied to the wall (for example in fresco painting and a few other traditional techniques) in prosgrade seminaries.
San Isidro, Argentina
Could you describe the development process of your artwork?
I generally start with an image as a first motivation, if not sometimes our brains act like a trap and you can be over and over doing the same image with some slight changes but still the same…that’s just an excuse for telling other things through painting, drawing or whatever the discipline or technique you choose to work on. I’ve done a lot of self-portraits while studying and my face sometimes appears against my will (deformed, changed but is lurking there in the shadows of the unconscious) so I try to search images which can give me different perspectives and take me out of that comfort zone. The rest is observation and work, not to reach a level of realism but to explore perception and the artistic language.

HarborArts - May 2014How much does your art affect or influence your everyday life and are there any role models or artists who inspired you?
Art influence everything in my life; I think it’s the motor behind it, actually art and expressing myself through it saved me lot of times (and probably I saved a lot of money in therapy too hehe). It’s a way of catharsis and a path to know ourselves deeply.

Lot of artists inspired and keep inspiring me, mainly because the commitment they have towards their art and life, because you cannot divide one from another. You live in art or you just paint, I choose to live in a constant creation not just to create an artwork. You have to be seriously involved in what you are doing, if not it’s not worthy enough. Francis Bacon, Charles Bukowksi, Carlos Alonso from my country and so many artists who put their lives in service of the art are big inspirations and models for me.

Has your style developed throughout the years?
Yes, you cannot be all the time doing the same stuff. I think one of the important things of art is evolving, investigate and change for better. You never ever finish the learning process.
Buenos Aires, ArgentinaWhat are your thoughts on the way the internet is influencing the artworld?
I think internet it’s a big help for promoting art. In my particular case, I sell my work mainly via facebook or similar places and online stores. But for me the most important thing is to be connected with people in the art scene. All of my last trips were mainly thanks to internet and the big showcase the web is. Since Memphis to NY, Boston and lately Venezuela all the people I’ve met through these years of virtual exposition were possible because of it. I’ve also illustrated a book written by and Italian author called Antonio Nazzaro which was translated both to Spanish and Italian, a collaboration thanks also to the connectivity.

I only see a negativity side in the big net : sometimes some ideas are repeated over and over again by different ‘artist’ Of course that’s a pretty logical situation because we are being bombarded all the time by a huge amount of images, not only referred to art ; publicity, design and mass media in general. Sometimes listening to our ‘inner’ call / voice / image can be harder if you are not well trained to first know yourself, what and how you want to tell something through a more personal and authentic imaginary.

HarborArts 2 - May 2014Have you painted in the USA? If so, how was your experience like?
Yes, I’ve painted in Memphis last year at Gallery56 where a show was held thanks to my friend and art director from the Gallery Rollin Kocsis and of course thanks to the Gallery’s owner, Frank Roberts. This year I had the chance to paint in the beautiful city of Boston, particularly at the harbor in East Boston for HarborArts. This was possible thanks to you Sami the administrator and creator of SAUS, so thank you one more time 🙂

I’ve enjoyed both experiences, the southern and northern one; this gave me the chance to compare different states in the same country. People were very friendly everywhere with me; they all made me feel at home.
It was funny both times the weather was kinda complicated at the beginning of the works. First time in Memphis I arrived to the Gallery after a (fortunately small) tornado in the route. I was in a rush because I had to come back to Atlanta to catch my flight back home. The days I spent there it was rainy but stopped while I was painting. At the very last moment I was putting my signature on the wall it started snowing. Something similar happened with the changing weather of New England. After two lovely and almost summer days which let me paint the big building, I was running again against time and weather during the very last day while I was painting a big sign at the entrance of the Harbor. I’ve finished it just before it started raining…fortunately the job was already done 🙂
Maracay, Venezuela, Oct 2014 3You just came back from painting in Venezuela, how was it?
It was a different experience compared to the States. I was invited to the Meeting of Styles, you know the mythical international event which started back in the nineties in Germany. This year was the first time it was held in Venezuela, in the city of Maracay to be more accurate. Unfortunately Venezuela has not a very good publicity nowadays mainly due to insecurity problems and everyday life. I’ve decided to go because I knew Antonio (the Italian writer) and his wife who live in Caracas. Fortunately they hosted me while I was there. People were very friendly and caring with me, no complaints about it.

Speaking about the organization it’s sad such an important event was not very well organized. I can easily understand the problems every country and place have (actually it’s not that different in my own country) but if you ‘invite’ artists to go to your country and paint for you, you must at least speak clearly concerning to the conditions of the accommodation, etc., and they weren’t. After coming back to my country, one of the people in charge (who invited me at the first place) asked me what I thought about it, I told him the truth…moreover because it’s important to speak clearly and I had no response back. As I said to him everything is a constant learning for both parts, so you have to be smart enough to capitalize the errors you had in order to make it better the next opportunity. I truly hope everyone can learn from it, including myself.

HarborArts 3 - May 2014Street art is still considered vandalism, how is it for you to go out and paint in the street? Did you ever have any problems with the law?
No, fortunately I didn’t! I did a few pieces with no permission but if you want to work bigger you should somehow get or ask for permission. I respect graffiti and its background but I don’t make tags, for me walls are big canvases in the open air, an open and free gallery, more attached to the concept of muralism rather to graffiti. Doing tags or working with stencils allow you to work faster. I do paint fast but it’s easily and more friendly with people to ask for a place, with the exception of the abandoned places of course.

Rebellion is not only about not asking for permission to people, you can be rebel in a lot of ways; art must be a rebellion all the time but it is not strictly attached for me to the situation of not being respectful with other people’s places.
One of the last projects in collaboration with SAUS while I was in Boston and NY was leaving little sculptures in the streets, framed in the free art Friday movement. We just left the pieces in the streets for people to grab them; we were interacting with the street scenario and with people but not in a aggressive way. You could grab it or just be indifferent and leave it there as a piece of nothing, just a subtle modification to the city.
SculptureWhat have been your most challenging and rewarding piece of work thus far?
The most challenging one was the life size sculpture I’ve finished this year. It was a lot of work indeed, moreover because I didn’t have the time to work on it all that I would like to so it took even more time.

But it was amazing to see it done after all that work. Sculpture has a different time and process; you need to be more patient.
I guess the most rewarding was the big woman I painted at HarborArts in Boston because it’s one of the biggest one I made, after the big kid painted in the public library near my neighborhood. It’s exciting to challenge ourselves all the time with bigger scales and I totally loved to being able to have a forklift to work on it and operate it by myself, it was like a prolongation of the arm in a way and it’s so amusing to be that high 🙂

This is not a Red MoonWhat do you do when you are not creating art? What are your hobbies?
Ohhh I’m a kind of nerd in a way. It’s weird because people who know me in the daily life think I’m a sociable person, which I am in a way because I do not have problems of interacting with people, but I prefer to be alone and creating rather than gathering with people. Sorry, you said when not creating art…well I must say things connected with art like reading from novels to philosophy and sociology, listening to music or seeing movies. I like to travel and know different places too but it’s generally connected to the places where I go to paint, not in a ‘tourist’ way, sorry I can be really bored! Hahaa
Buenos Aires, Argentina 2What’s next for you? What shows or projects do you have planned?
To tell you the truth I’m kind of against the art scene at least in my country, so I choose to show my art in the web mainly. I have this problem I do not fit in any system, and I try to escape unconsciously from it. I do not agree with the situation of having to pay for showing your art in art galleries or art fairs, which is a natural and apparently beyond reproach ‘status quo’ in Argentina. Gallery 56 in Memphis has a collection of some of drawings and paintings and they organize art shows from time to time. Some other works are now in Caracas and maybe something show up from it too.

Speaking about art projects I’ve recently learned how weld so I want to work in assembling a tougher and abstract way of working with metals with the more traditional techniques I generally use in sculpture, like clay and molds from it, could be using polyester resin, plaster or cement. I like to mix techniques a lot so this is going to be a next level in mixing them, probably thinking in materials more friendly with the open air.

Public LibraryAny words of advice for aspiring new artists?
WORK HARD and never stop working hard. Forget about all the artist poses, you have to be authentic and genuine to yourself. You can copy, of course you NEED to copy at the beginning, observation and then copy it’s the most traditional but efficient way of learning but then you have, you MUST FIND YOUR OWN VOICE and have the skills to translate it, that’s why you need the first part, everyone can drip painting in a canvas, not everyone can work as Michelangelo. You are not going to be Michelangelo, we are speaking of different eras of course and we certainly do not need copies of past artists, but I’m talking about the hard work behind it, it’s much more rich to have different tools to work with than just work with one, so you have to be able to embrace the most of them you can, they will help you to speak with images in a better way.

Recognition, prizes, fame, that will show up or not depending on the circumstances, the context and on your marketing capabilities. But that’s another chapter and certainly a secondary one.

Thank you Mariana for answering our questions. We wish you luck and success on your future endeavors, and please know that you always have a place to stay in Boston.

Mariana De Marchi

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