Actualizado: feb 11
Since December 2018 we have found a space in Buenos Aires City that allows us to explore more deeply the relationship between human beings and nature. Using the plant shop at Huella botanica as a space for encounter, with plants as witnesses, we created the visual arts cycle “Vivarium”. For its fifth edition, we summoned the artist Pablo Martin to present the series “Cacthumans”, a collection of paintings, ceramics and masks.
The inspiration for this project aroused from a combination of concerns based on the following story, as told by the artist: “Cactihumans have been annihilated by the Conqueror: their spilled blood got to the guts of earth and mixed with lava, reflourishing under the shape of cactuses that inhabit our deserts. Blood, earth, seeds, fight, everything mixes."
On the occasion of the opening of this show, Victoria Acosta interviewed Pablo in his San Telmo studio to get to know more about his work.
In your work, we can observe a clear reminiscence to primitivism. What is it that motivates you from the connection to the primitive? How did you get to that search?
I have always been interested in cave paintings, in the imaginary of the originary people of all over the world, in the ancient cultures, in art-brut. I think there is a primary truth that I want to arrive at with my work. Everything is on sight, there is a forcefulness that makes you think about your own origin, that’s what I am searching for.
The stones and cactuses you portray in your works are characteristic of desertic zones. Do you feel that the connection to the origin of those geographies was accented after your residencies in the north of the country and in Mexico?
Yes, absolutely. In those types of landscapes I feel connected to the deepest of myself. Especially with the rocks and the cactuses, that have something very raw, they prick and scrape, they move us away but at the same time they attract us because of their primordial forms.
Your recent works from the past years are marked by monochrome, and the gestural materiality is observed in your trace. Why do you choose black over other colors?
For me color use has always been a problem. Before I used to work with white, black and red. But then after some time I realized that I didn’t need to add more things to the image to transmit what I wanted. So I just kept using black and white. I also feel there is a bigger depth, that some paintings seem to be done with mud, which refers to earth.
You do murals, paintings, drawings and ceramics. What discipline of the ones you work with you identify best with and why?
Drawing is always the starting point for everything, and it’s mainly where it ends. Even if I use painting as material, I feel everything I do in a bidimensional form is drawing. I really enjoy making murals, ceramics and objects but I feel them as satellites to drawing.
You usually represent your character’s mouth highlighted, in many occasions open, like screaming or vocalizing. What do you feel they express?
It’s true that there is a lot of expresiveness and, being represented in a fixed image, it generates something like a “silent scream” that I think is very unsettling. In the last works I’m doing, there is a direct relationship with the moment I was living during this past year, related to loss and family issues. So I think that, more than never, what I have just explained is reflected.
Human beings and nature are fused in the series “Cacthumans”. How do you perceive this relationship from your worldview?
It’s major. Logically without nature there is no human beings. The relationship is intrinsical from the very begginning. In my works I have made it more visible with Cacthumans by imagining an originary people who worship, build a culture and lives through cactuses. In my past work maybe this relationship is not so clear, but still my images refer to animals and beings making rituals or tasks in nature.
You have mentioned before that your work is related to literature, particularly “El Entenado” by Juan José Saer. In this works the experiences and traditions of a tribe are exposed and, being narrated by a spanish, it emphasizes in otherness and the relationship between the civilized and the wild. How did this reading influence your work?
I completely agree with what you are saying. This work by Saer caused a big impact in me. In fact, it is one of my favourite books. I never felt so close that viscerality, that incarnation of the tribe, the ritual, the descent to hell to resurface from the ashes. In efect, i can say that it influenced my work very much and it will always be a header reading for me.
How do you see the development of your practice in the future? Are you working in a particular project for this year or the next one?
I never cease to draw, paint, making objects. A few years ago I started working on this series called Black Heads, and I would love to show it all together. Lastly my work is going in that direction, of taking the shape of the head as a figure, an abstraction, a monument, and an object.
The opening of the show “Cacthumans” is programmed for Friday 19th July at 6.30pm. There will be a live reading by the artist and music in hands of the group Pedro y las Ovejas. Admission is free. The show can be seen until August 24th.