By day, Marta Morientes works as an art director in advertising in London, but by night she is a painter, absorbed in the communities formed by the city’s warehouses where she lives, which have become a “sounding board” for her artistry. Having grown up in a small town in the south of Spain (where the only museum has been showing the same exhibition since she was born) there wasn’t that much inspiration for an aspiring artist. She grew up dreaming of the underground art and music scenes that she would one day be apart of, meeting a myriad of different creative people which continue to influence her today.
“I’ve always painted for as long as I can remember,” Marta tells us, and impressively, she sold her first painting at the mere age of eight. She was in the Spanish beach town that her family visited each summer, and had found a new hobby, painting football badges on shells which she sold with her brother. Marta vividly remembers the first day when they “didn’t make much money.” But in time, “a flamboyant elderly women came up to me and said with complete conviction: ‘You are an artist!’” A group of friends bought a small painting for 20 euros soon after, which made Marta feel like “the happiest person in the world.” She spent her well-deserved earnings by taking her parents out for dinner.
Marta is still relatively new to the medium we see today, despite the fact she’s painted for most of her life. It was during the first lockdown where she developed a specific style, a style that can in part, be attributed to a love for the music video Cocaine Cool by Laid Back. Similarly to this video, her chosen aesthetic is lo-fi and graphic – a style which is almost crude but full of expression nonetheless. “I really like contrasts,” she goes on to say, “whether it be in the vibrant colour palettes of my paintings of between the style of painting and subject matter.” In turn, she chooses specific colour combinations to emphasise particular elements of her works.
In her series It’s Summer Baby, this is most evident. Beach goers appear near fluorescent reds, pinks and oranges in the glaring sun. Cheeky facial expressions beneath the palm trees can be seen lurking behind a pair of sunglasses, in some cases with a cigarette and beer bottle in hand. The series focuses on elderly people in the sun, enjoying themselves during a summer that couldn’t really happen due to the pandemic. “Although many of us haven’t had the chance to go on holiday this year, I feel these paintings are more about communicating a mood and a feeling rather than just the specific situations on display,” says Marta. “I like to feel that even on a rainy day in London, these pieces bring a slice of summer fun and the vibe that comes with it.”
Layering the thick paint to create texture, Marta enjoys experimenting with volumes of thickness to mask certain details, or accentuate others. In a painting titled Nike for example, she makes use of two extra dollops of red paint to underline a protruding pair of “frisky nipples”. Importantly, Marta’s paintings are not only fun to view but they are also a lot of fun to create. Much of the enjoyment is rooted in the work’s supposed simplicity, granting accessibility on first glances, but if you look closer, there are also small intricacies to enjoy in each composition. Whether that’s a pair of nipples, a shiny ring on a finger, or a cheeky thigh tattoo.
As a creative working day-to-day in advertising, Marta is used to packing a punchy message in one single image. “I would like to that there’s a sense of offbeat irony that runs through all my work,” she adds, often conveyed through a tongue and cheek interpretation of well known brands or logos. This concept lies behind the painter’s latest work, a series which translates various advertisements into paintings – a series from which the Nike painting belongs. “I think there’s something rebellious or funny (not really sure) about painting these logos from very serious companies in an innocent way,” she continues. And upon seeing the works featuring the likes of Gucci and Macdonalds, with subject’s adorning glazed over expressions playing on the deadpan nature of over-consumerism, we have to agree.
Marta Morientes: N!ke (Copyright © Marta Morientes, 2020)
About the Author
Jyni became a staff writer in March 2019 having previously joined the team as an editorial assistant in August 2018. She graduated from The Glasgow School of Art with a degree in Communication Design in 2017 and her previous roles include Glasgow Women’s Library designer in residence and The Glasgow School of Art’s Graduate Illustrator.