Jose Carlos Martinat

Selected works by Jose Carlos Martinat

Jose Carlos Martinat
Ejercicio Superficial #12


Glass and spray paint

Dimensions variable

Jose Carlos Martinat’s art is at the interface of real and virtual worlds; his sources of inspiration are architecture and the urban milieu, human and cyberspace memories. His multimedia installations and sculptural assemblages incorporate a diversity of materials and strategies to alter preconceptions in regards to where things belong, he brings imprints meant for the street to the gallery, as an archeologist of sorts. This offhand methodology manifests in a number of manners.
Banner-like objects are made from transfers of political parties’ logos found in the city walls by means of lifting off the texture of the paint in resin. These Pintas are unmediated appropriations of political slogans fragments that end up pasted onto gallery walls.
The fascination with architectural modernism is matched in Martinat’s case by a penchant for a certain kitsch aesthetic that he articulates with the inclusion of tagging, strident colour and street art strategies. His Ejercicios Superficiales series encompasses a number of bodies of work in different mediums that generally evoke the idea of superficiality in the use of readymade surfaces covered in graffiti.
The superficiality of his intention – or rather his love of the surface – is also present in the sculptural composition Monumentos Vandalizables – Abstracción del Poder presented in the Mercosul Biennale of 2009, where fragments of emblematic buildings designed by Oscar Niemeyer for the futuristic Brasilia are built in white coated wood, and subsequently offered to the exhibition visitors to spray paint over them with slogans, graffiti and other intervention techniques. The dirtying of the icon could appear like a rebel boutade that conversely serves to perpetuate the iconography of modernism. It could also be a liberating force in the face of the widespread abuse of power.

Text © Gabriela Salgado


Nov 2010, Art Nexus

A self-taught vanguardist, Peruvian artist José Carlos Martinat (1974) presented the exhibition entitled Ejercicios de Abstracción y Substracción para Distracción (Exercises of Abstraction and Subtraction for Distraction. Speaking about the name of the exhibition, Matinat had this to say: ¿I decided to create a series of somewhat basic addition and subtraction exercises, in order to give new meaning to certain things or actions.¿1
Concurrently with this exhibition, Martinat also presented an installation at the Museo de Arte in Lima to mark the reopening of the museum. With 10,000 visitors during the first week after the opening, the exhibit broke the museum¿s attendance record.
In the exhibition at the Galería Revolver, Martinat included four kinds of works that are markedly different from each other: an installation; a cement sculpture with broken glass; a megaphone suspended from a pendulum, and graffiti images taken from Lima¿s street walls. This show is by no means homogeneous, as the essence of Martinat¿s work is precisely to surprise and challenge viewers. What is art? Who is the artist? Is the artist the person who envisions the work, or the person who executes it? There is no doubt that the answer is the person who ¿ like Martinat ¿ envisions the work.
The installation entitled Ejercicio 1 (Mentir-Verdad) (Exercise 1 [Lie-Truth]) is one of the most interesting pieces I have seen. It reflects real life; its meaning resides in and is built into the installation. Viewers cannot access the exhibition room because the installation occupies the entire space; thus, it can only be viewed from the door. The room is divided into two levels, with a wooden floor raised halfway from the floor to the ceiling that covers the entire room and becomes the division between these two sections. On this second level and at the center of this floor, the upper part of the word Mentir (Lie) protrudes, as if the rest of the word could be hidden underneath it. But the spectator¿s vantage point reveals that, actually, the bottom half of the word Verdad (Truth) is visible from underneath the division. While the second level with Mentir has been completely painted white and appears to be a finished piece, the lower level containing Verdad seems to be still under construction, with parts of the floor missing and bare walls exposing structural layers, such as the support beams. This mid-floor is supported by unpainted wooden beams. Thus, what does the finished nature of the section with the word Lie versus the unfinished nature of the section with the word Truth mean? Is this a reflection of the society we live in? Of course, but also, it reflects our personal lives, for each thing that we say is part of these two realities. Concerning this installation, Martinat has said that ¿it is a metaphor that is repeated around the world: the lie as something perfectly pre-constructed, and the truth as not quite finished, but instead, in a constant process of development. In the end, each is fashioned from the other.


November 2011, by Mario Navarro, Arte Aldia International

By destruction I understand all those processes that show what we call losses. Traumas which in most cases explain a complete deracination of memories, but which inevitably leave a series of flashes of reminiscences along the way; semi invisible landmarks that evidence the idealization of a traveled road.
This was my opening remark for the text that accompanied the exhibition I curated in the Seventh Mercosur Biennial, 2009. On that occasion, the focus of the exhibit was the notion of transformation, both from the visual point of view of the works and from that of their production systems and of all the possible extensions rendering the visibility of the socio-cultural context of the state of Río Grande do Sul possible. Thus, all the participating works were altered, modified, manipulated or destroyed over the course of the exhibition. In that framework, which was so visually attractive and so evidently dogmatic (I say this with a certain feeling of shame), José Carlos Martinat’s project became a point of attraction which allowed many connections with the rest of the works presented.
Monumentos vandalizables: Abstracción de poder 1, Abstracción de poder 2 (Vandalizable Monuments: Abstraction of Power 1, Abstraction of Power 2)(2009) consisted of two groups of (monumental) sculptures gathering together models of emblematic buildings, representative of Brazilian political and economic power. Modernity and development are the vectors that outline the first references of this project.
Each of these models, however, had been stripped of its original physical appearance; every trace of ornament had been eliminated, transforming all the surfaces into spaces neutralized by a museum-like white, by an architecture free from any kind of crime − as Adolf Loos would put it − against the image.