Mauro Martinez juxtaposes common pictorial forms from art history with the monotonous streams of online imagery that we, as an increasingly digital society, are so often subjected to. Skillfully utilising metaphor, irony and dark humour, Martinez’s paintings respond to the doctrines of internet culture, at once critiquing and mocking our relationship with contemporary imagery.
The word ‘meme’ stems from the Greek ‘mimēma’ which means ‘that which is imitated’. When one object or creation imitates another there is an inherent potential present: namely, the potential for satire. Martinez interacts with the cultural phenomenon of the meme in order to examine a society hell-bent on voracious image consumption and, in doing so, to pose the question “what happens when you imitate the imitated?” The meme has certain inherent qualities: it is quickly made, somewhat crude, critical yet flippant and has the potential to reach immensely large audiences extremely quickly. Martinez is interested in the stark contrast between these properties and that of traditional oil painting - fusing the two and simultaneously challenging the conventions of seemingly opposed image making.
Martinez’s style is malleable, rejecting creative rigidity in favour of listening to the requirements of an image; his source image leads him, dictating the visual outcome of the piece, leaving the artist to focus purely on technique and methodology. For example, Martinez’s sensitive content series needed to be based upon a blurred image, therefore an airbrush became necessary; then, as the fine and precise nature of the text overlay was more of a challenge to recreate, silk screen printing became imperative. This reliance on technique at the behest of a definitive message allows the pieces to enter the world, be it in physical or digital form, free from conceptual shackles - this in turn allows the work to come full circle as a perfectly realised fine-art meme.
Mauro C. Martinez, in his studio, 2021
ABOUT THE ARTIST
American, b. 1986. Mauro Martinez currently lives and works in San Antonio, Texas. He attended Pasadena’s Art Centre College of Design and has shown in both solo and group shows across America. In 2020 Mauro’s first solo exhibition with Unit London (titled Big Mood) took place in the Mayfair space; Mauro also collaborated with Unit Drops and EDITION KÖNIG on a print release later that year. Martinez’s work has been featured in group and solo exhibitions across the United States and London.