Interview to the Asturian artist Mario M. Martínez

Last July first "Universo video. El espacio de la ilusión" opened, an exhibition curated by Alfredo Aracil. We interview one of the selected artists, Mario M. Martínez, to learn more about his story and future projects.

Published: Jul 06, 2015
Interview to the Asturian artist Mario M. Martínez

Mario M. Martinez (Gijón, 1988)

By Naiara Valdano, Art Gossips, @art_gossips

As Walt Disney said, “out of all the inventions for mass communication, images still speak the language most universally understood.” We should not forget that through history many drawings, paintings, sculptures and other visual media have been used to explain, educate and even entertain a good part of society.

Within this trend, animation has been essential in oue moments of leisure, for this reason LABoral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial has just opened the exhibition Universo video. El espacio de la ilusión. Curated by Alfredo Aracil and organised in partnership with Goethe Institute and InstitutFrançais, it presents works related with the world of animation set up around two historic pieces by LotteReiniger and John Whitney. They are not aimed at building a new anthology, but rather at “explore how illusion and space relate when time becomes flexible and subjective.”

Introductory video of the show

A total of ten national and international artists have been selected, these are among others Misha Bies Golas, Cristina Busto, Fernando Gutiérrez, Joe Hamilton or Emmanuel Lefrant. But I would like to focus on Mario M. Martínez, a young Asturian artist whose work has been published in magazines such as Pensamiento Ideofugitivo, Cheaperthan Portugal, Arañas Cerebrales or TruitiZine.

We have interviewed him to have him tell us first-hand about his story, present and past. Below you can read the interview and enjoy it and we hope it makes you visit the exhibition.

What made you become an artist? How were your beginnings and when did you discover that art was your vocation?

I have always drawn just for distraction. I would get bored in class and I would sketch on the my notebook as much as I could. Then I studied engineering but I had no interest at all and it was extremely frustrating. I think the only thing I learned there was that I did not want to live like that and that if I did, I would end up developing an ulcer.

One night I met a girl who was studying illustration in Oviedo. I had no idea that there was an art school and what was all about, but I liked the idea of spending all day drawing and I got more information. I had never taken "official art studies "  and, in fact, I quite disliked them. After thoroughly contemplating the possibility for a long time, I prepared for the exam without telling my family and when I was admitted to etching I dropped the bomb. All hell broke loose.

Gradually I realised that what for me was only a way to release my frustration while killing time, for others was something interesting. “Being an artist seemed (and still seems) very far away…in fact 99% of the occasions when I say it, I am joking. I just do my stuff and if someone thinks it is art, great.

How would you define your style?

Technically I should mention the art of the interwar period and the German expressionists, but I actually learned about their existence much later. I do not hold to anything specific… But, when it comes to identifying contact points, it is easy to see what I like, usually things created from the guts and quite brutally too.

I guess if I had to summarise it in a few words, “direct” and “dirty” would be among the first ones to come up.

Which are your references or inspiration sources?

I usually look around, I analyse how my environment affects me and, when I have it well-seasoned within me, I put it on the paper. Some sickening attitudes and the anger that grows when you realise you have these attitude, even the comfort of a bus trip through a new landscape are experiences and feelings that can be connected in five minutes to leave their mark on what you are doing.

To some extent I am not sure if I can tell "What I am interested in" from "what affects me". We are so overwhelmed with information that there is a point when on the same day an artist that you have just discovered affects you just like an old magazine found in the garbage. It all depends on the moment and the forms.

How is your creative process like? Once you have an idea what is your route sheet until it becomes a work of art?

I have a sketchbook and I draw every day. I don’t do it as part of a process, rather as an act of “personal development” (call it whatever). Some time ago a teacher told me that at first, she did not understand my drawing at class, but then she had reached the conclussion that it was like a therapy for me that helped me to stay seated more than 15 minutes. When I have no epiphany at hand, I use this or concepts that concern me and end up as notations in pieces of paper that dwell in my jacket.

For better or for worse, I’m not a methodical person, therefore the route map depends on what I’m doing. Normally, once I have decided the point of departure, I simply sit in front of the paper and start working. In the case of animation and etching, as they take a longer period of time and more effort, they do have more fixed processes (sketches, story board sometimes, framing, movement…) I am a fairly nervous guy.

Three years ago you won the award Premio Asturias Joven de Artes Plásticas 2013. What did it mean for you?

Mixed feelings. First, I confirmed that my work was following the right path. When you change your life as drastically as I did, I guess this things help you focus and also help those around you realise I was not such a bad idea as they had thought. It also forced me to move forward, set myself higher goals and, in addition, it enabled me to reach more people.

I must also say that the fact of being the first lucky winner who did not receive the financial part of the award made me a little angry, particularly in relation with the production. Fortunately I am used to working with minimal budgets and I managed to overcome the situation but I thought that the expenditure in materials was around 1000€ and I cried a little. This was a recurrent topic and made me angry because it seemed that at the end of the day it was all about money.

This year you take part in Universo Video. El espacio de la ilusión, an exhibition in animation. What do you like of this medium?

I could answer that technical versatility, but I think it is rather an emotional thing. I have always liked animation a lot, especially the classical one. I have always watched cartoons and already when I was a boy I dreamed of creating them myself, but I would have never imagined I could manage to make animation a part of my life at this level. On the occasion of my last-year project I did some research and I realised it was within my capacity, so I started to learn.

In this show you are presenting your work Acecho. How did the idea for this work come up?

When the organisers contacted me for this exhibition, they told me they were interested in a piece I had prepared for the individual show I did last year at Sala Borrón. At that time I was very interested in mural painting and I thought that creating a short dialogue with animation could be a good idea with a great potential. I had just gone to Portugal and I only had a few days in Asturias to prepare everything, so I could take half the project in a USB stick with me and then paint the rest with excess materials I still had from a previous work. I wanted to try new things and, since I was not being paid, I decided to use them as a test bank. Eventually everything worked out all right and everyone was happy.


Acecho (2015)
@ Artist

Which other artists and works included in this exhibition would you recommend?

I like very much all I have seen by Fernando Gutiérrez, so I can say in advance that this time will not be different. In the exhibition of the 25th Anniversary of the show I also saw the work of Cristina Busto and found it very interesting.

Furthermore, I have been lectured about John Whitney and, even though in principle it is not the kind of style I would like, I know he is a classic and sharing a venue with one of his works is a great privilege.

To wrap up, what are your projects for the future?

I would like to continue working and training like I have been doing so far, provided I have the time and the money. I have many different interests, so I will try to have more people see my work and, if there are no projects, grants, aids or anything, I will have to keep on working on my own as long as I can.

My work has been shown mainly in Asturias (just two micro-exhibitions in Madrid and Barcelona), so I guess what I have to do know is taking it beyond the mountains. For the moment, this week I’m going to an international art schools festival and when I return I have a little exhibition in a venue in Gijon called La Vida Alegre. In addition a local group has offered me to make a new video, so I guess when I’m through with my commitments we will start discussing the issue.

An then in the medium/long term, my priority is not starving nor becoming a jerk. We’ll see…

We thank Mario for his time and we hope you can visit the exhibition that will be open until October 18.


(1)  Frases de Walt Disney (Blog de mis frases, 2012). Text available at


(2)  Press dossier of Universo video. El espacio de la ilusión (LABoral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial,  2015). >Tool available at



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