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Brooklyn Street Art

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MART in Argentina: “buena onda” in the Streets

Posted on June 25, 2012

“Graffiti Saved My Life”

Today Brooklyn Street Art has the pleasure to welcome Rosanna Bach as a guest collaborator. A photographer, writer, and Street Art and graffiti fan, Rosanna is exploring her new home of Buenos Aires and documenting whatever attracts her eye. Today she shares with BSA readers images from local Street Artist MART as well as an interview she had with him in his studio. Our great thanks to Rosanna and MART for this great opportunity to learn about his history as a graffiti writer and how it turned into a career as a painter.

MART (photo © Rosanna Bach)

Mart was kind enough to invite me up to his apartment/studio in the barrio of Palermo where he grew up. Palermo is also the barrio where has left his mark, a trail of colorfully spirited murals. Beginning as a graffiti writer, Mart says he has been painting since age eleven. In our interview he shares his artistic and personal evolution over the past fourteen years painting in the street. He also shows us the drawings he’s preparing for an upcoming exhibit.

As I was admiring a compilation of photographs and drawings sporadically hung above the staircase of the entrance, Mart comments to me, “I like photography more than painting.”

Rosanna Bach: Why?
MART:
I find meaning in things that I’m not familiar with. I’m familiar with painting. I know how to do draw, although I don’t draw hyperrealism for example but I know how I could do it. But photography is incredible.

Rosanna Bach: For me it’s the opposite.
MART: Because you’re a photographer.

Rosanna Bach: But anyone can take a photo.
MART: Anyone can paint. Do you understand why I like it? Because it’s not mine.  I feel like painting is my world and photography is another, like dance. I love dance. I’d much rather go to a dance recital than an exhibit. Exhibits don’t captivate me in the way that other art forms do; it’s like “Hmmm.. yes, yes, alright got it.” I’m very quickly able to read the person.

Rosanna Bach: You are interested because you want to learn about other worlds?
MART: But it’s not because I like it that I feel the need to do it myself. You respect what you do otherwise it’s like a lack of respect. I prefer seeing other “worlds” because they move me.

Rosanna Bach: So did you start out painting alone or was it something you did with your friends?
MART: I was very young – already in primary school when I started writing “Martin” all over the walls. My sister had a boyfriend (Dano) who was older then me and he exposed me to hip-hop style graffiti. He taught me how to do it – I thought it was so great. So I started writing “Mart”, Mart, Mart, Mart, Mart, Mart…. all over the streets until I got bored of writing my name, until it made no sense anymore.

Rosanna Bach: How long did it take you to tire of that?
MART: A considerable amount of time but I learned a lot of things. I learned how to paint.

 

MART (photo © Rosanna Bach)

Rosanna Bach: And your style? I’m sure it’s evolved a lot over the years.
MART: I started with graffiti but simultaneously started drawing and that’s what led me to this.

Rosanna Bach: And the figures you draw? I find them to have a lot of hope and a little magic…
MART: I think that’s how I live, in a world of magic all the time. I feel like a very fortunate person, and I’m grateful for that. I don’t take it for granted. I’m lucky that I’m well, I’m happy, my family is well..

Rosanna Bach: This is a mentality that many of us are lacking.
MART: That is the exact reason why I paint in the street; For others, not for myself .  Of course it is for me a little as well because I obviously enjoy doing it but mostly it is for others. That’s why I paint what I paint, things with “buena onda” (good vibes). To paint for myself in a frame would be strange. It’s for everyone, that’s what I find interesting about painting in the streets. And I’m not talking about graffiti because it’s made for a closed community. Like, “Dude you have a great outline” — wonderful. It’s for a micro-world and it can only be appreciated by a select few… “my name” is all about my name my name my name.

 

MART (photo © Rosanna Bach)

Rosanna Bach: But you once started like that as well.
MART: And I’m thankful for that because it’s what made me understand in time that I was painting in the streets for a reason and thanks to graffiti I learned to paint large and I learned quickly.

Rosanna Bach: So your figures are your interpretation of your life. Do you take ideas from your dreams sometimes?
MART: I love dreaming I dream a lot. But they’re not interpretations of my dreams. Or perhaps they are — But I don’t believe so.

Rosanna Bach: You could say that they’re your alter-egos?
MART: Its my feelings, my interior. So, yes.

MART (photo © Rosanna Bach)

Rosanna Bach: When did the transition occur when painting became your profession?
MART: There were two elements that paralleled with each other. One of them was a big job for the Cartoon Network that I got asked to do when I was 18 — an ad campaign with graffiti. And the other was that my friends went to prison. We’d always lived in this barrio, and when I was younger my friends and I were delinquents. So I realized that painting was a way to distance my self from that. With painting I can earn a living and not do bad by anyone. So I chose to paint. It wasn’t only an evolution of me as much as it was as a person, an adult, as a man. I chose that path. I chose the good path.

Rosanna Bach: That’s interesting because usually people relate graffiti to delinquency and vice.
MART: For me graffiti saved my life. I have my house and thanks to graffiti.

Rosanna Bach: Are your parents creative at all?
MART: No. But they’ve always been fully supportive. They’re like my angels. They used to drop me off to paint all over the place. They love me very much.

Rosanna Bach: Do you travel a lot?
MART: When I can and I want to I do. I like traveling. But how can I explain it? I like being patient and I like living peacefully. I don’t feel a burning need to travel, I do it when I want to in the time I want to. I want to live for many years and feel like I’m going to live for many years. That’s also why I don’t send photos of my work all over the place — I don’t like excess. Fame isn’t my prime objective. If people know my work it’s because I wanted them to see it in the street and that they understand what it’s about and what I’m about.

Rosanna Bach: I find that mentality to be quite true to a lot of graffiti artists around here, it comes from quite a pure place.
MART: I don’t know, but I paint for my city.

Rosanna Bach: Do you think you could paint for another city one day?
MART: Maybe. I don’t know, perhaps Berlin. I’m going there for three months this summer

Rosanna Bach: In the graffiti community here, most of them are your friends. So your friends are quite a big part of your working life. Have you ever wondered what it would be like without them?
MART: Good question. I’ve never thought about it. It would be very different. Firstly if I hadn’t met Dano I never would’ve started painting in the first place. I wouldn’t exist. And if my friends left I think I’d go and find them.

Rosanna Bach: If you weren’t painting have you ever thought of what else you would do?
MART: I have but it’s not worth wasting my time to be honest. I paint, that’s what I’m already doing. That’s what I do.

 

MART (photo © Rosanna Bach)

MART (photo © Rosanna Bach)

MART. POETA (photo © Rosanna Bach)

MART (photo © Rosanna Bach

Please visit MART at the site below to learn more about his art.

http://flavors.me/airesmart

To view more beautiful photography from Rosanna visit her Tumblr page below:

http://rosannabach.tumblr.com/