Enrique Marty works a lot, driven by a kind of maniacal phantasy and by an obsession to depict ‘everything’ in his environment, or to ‘deal’ with it in a certain way. His oeuvre, consisting of paintings, video’s, watercolours and sculptures, reads as an exploration of the human soul through a recording of what people do and how they behave. Marty’s paintings are mostly based on snapshots of day-to-day situations, often moments were normal people are either acting on purpose or behaving like actors without knowing it, in which the artist detects a hidden layer of cruelness or ridiculousness. In other cases, Marty uses found footage, unusual stories, or invented scenes and mixes them with obscene, surreal or humouristic imagination. The sculptures are three-dimensional portraits based on moulds taken from real persons. Both theatrical objects and sculptures at the same time, they serve as tools with which the artist can control the psychology of the viewer, and thus structure the show. In his video’s, Marty makes a mix based on different sources, a procedure similar to the paintings. The result is a highly dramatic but also vital oeuvre in which the audience discovers the dark side and magic of our so-called normal life. Marty constructs shows which can be read as mental spaces – a collection of thoughts and images, an archive of memories and mental snapshots by which life among friends and family is documented. Portrait dolls, walls filled with hundreds of paintings and video are often combined into total installations. Sometimes the structure of the exhibition even requires an architectural intervention. Rather than a ‘show’ in the traditional sense of the word, each exhibition is a try-out or an improvisation, an experimental association of themes, arranged according to a personal logic and related to content the artist is dealing with. Marty often gives way to his fascination for the dark side of our psychology, the kind of darkness we find in circusses or wedding parties. Within this mental frame, the impact of the works varies from devilish or ambiguous amusement, to shock or terror. For Marty however, shocking – or amusing, for that matter – is only one of the methods. It is not a goal, although his work can be very shocking to any viewer who is not familiar with it, and even to those who do know it. The feelings and experiences the viewer has when undergoing the work cause a state of extreme awareness of the unseen, in other words a fascination for life.
Furthermore, behind each presentation lies a conceptual play with the nature of self-made images and mass-communication, an obsessive urge for the reproduction of our personal life, the unlimited recording of experiences and an analysis of the techniques of story-telling. Through a complex process of reworking and mixing visual content, seemingly without adding any clear significance, the highly personal is turned into a moment or an image with a universal appeal. Each event or image recorded by the artist – who deliberately acts as a ‘medium’ at this point – is turned into a painting or another work in any kind of medium. Then it is combined with other elements from the artist’s vast archive of impressions, or recombined with a previous work. It ultimately becomes a sign of life, a universal testimony of someone else living a life as difficult, horrifying or pleasant as yours.
Artist Statement on “Ghost’s Spirit” by Enrique Marty
The project comprises painting, watercolor, sculpture and video. The media are not important in and of itself but as instruments to create an environment – a sort of trip around the gallery space. In this case, a former house that has become very important in the development of the project. The viewer becomes a visitor and perhaps one uninvited. I feel quite attached to baroque art especially Spanish and Flemish art.This historical art and political context is something very similar to the context we are living in nowadays. Baroque in Europe represents the luxury, voluptuous flesh, glorious religion, mythological handsome gods and pretty goddess showing their bodies. But something weird is being hidden behind this golden mask. The gold is fake. For everything is no more than a stage that one can look behind the scenes of the drama or comedy. Just look to the museum and you have the feeling that in the 17th century, everything was a torrent of luxury but, in reality, that period was that of war and sickness.
Now, I reflect about our time using my closest environment and the familiar relationships as tools. All the works shown here depict my relatives and friends. I like to think about these pieces as ghosts – the inhabitants of the space just for some time. The tour starts from some watercolor organized as kind of “illustrations” showing part of a supposed legend which occurred in the house and the inhabitants …
Enrique Marty was born in Salamanca in 1969 and currently lives and works there. He received his Degree in Arts from Salamanca University. The artist has had landmark solo shows at the Reina Sofia Museum, MUSAC (Leon 2006), Gemeentemuseum (The Hagues) and most recently at the Kunsthalle Mannheim in November 2010. His impressive group exhibition history includes participation at the Venice Biennial (2001 / 2005), PS 1 and ZKM.