Marina Vargas

The true art of symbolism

marinavargas

Where were you born?

In Granada, Spain.

What’s your strongest memory of your childhood growing up in Granada?

I remember my grandmothers’ house, which I lived in when I was little. An exposed brick house that is about 200 years old, with its’ patterned floor tiles of different colors according to the room. I had a very free childhood in that village house. Surrounded by Pine and Plum trees and open doors throughout the day. I could go out with my brother and neighbors to play and come back at night without any concern. The house is still standing but everything around it has changed…

How did your upbringing influence your work?

In my immediate family nobody has studied fine arts. Thus, I have grown up without having direct contact with this world. But I have grown up playing and building with my hands. Next to my grandmother’s house was my father’s cabinet workshop. We lived very close to the workshop, so it was a playground for me.

I saw how my father worked with his own hands, the smell of varnish, the different colors of wood and it astonished me that out of nothing my father made the drawers of a piece of furniture fit to the millimeter. As he mounted a ladder and turned the railing, as if effortlessly he could have twisted the wood. This workshop was  another outlet for our games. There we made weapons, swords, buildings, houses and spaceships with wooden blocks. And we could spend our time creating our own games. I loved to draw and everything that meant doing something for myself.

These aspects have greatly marked my work. Even in the process and development of many of my pieces I have been able to count on the great help of my father. As in the case of the series of weapons in which the frame itself becomes a weapon.

marinavargas
marinavargas

What do you try to express in your work?

In my work the most important principle is to be moved. For me to be moved, and somebody to be moved by it. I think this is the vital engine. With my work I intend to disturb, create a state of convulsion, a pause. Emotional subconscious. Death is only a metaphor, for example: Corpse in Latin means fall. So, as Louise Bourgeoise said, “I am interested in the art of falling, of knowing how to fall”. Reflect on inherited knowledge, beauty and the concept of liberation. Look for my / our identity at a symbolic level, pretend to possess no certainty but creating questions.

When did you realize you wanted to become an artist?

I realized when I understood that a drawing was a secret in sight, that I could express myself through image. It coincides with a difficult time. I had a car accident and I had to be immobilized for a long time. At that time I did not stop drawing to take away my frustrations and desires. There I realized the therapeutic power of drawing and the power of image. Although I did not know what it was to be an artist, I already felt that I wanted to dedicate myself to drawing and doing something creative with my life.

What themes do you pursue? And why?

I am really interested in what interests everyone, the basics; life and death, violence and control systems. Feminism as a response to established power games. Identity. What we inherit culturally and maintain in time. To study time from its cyclical conception. The sacred, the body from a holistic view, symbology, ancestry, alchemy and the mystic. The games of forces and powers. Images that speak for themselves as if merging with the word, pointing to a reality, without saying «this is reality.» Make an elliptical turn to get to the same point; our present, a present pregnant with our symbolic past. Create questions and generate new points of view and offer more doors to open. To recognize myself in others and not be afraid to know others. But above all what interests me most is to be moved before apiece of arte and move with a work of art.

 

What mediums/materials do you work in and why? 

I work with many mediums and formats depending on the project or work that is developing. When I am working, I am a servant of the work and I am very attentive to listen and to be at its service. There are projects and pieces that require one type of medium or another. Based on each project I move between drawing, sculpture, painting, video and photography.

What is there to gain by making sculptures or Art for that matter?

A lot. It’s my way of life. Through art I move, I live, I am and I project.

What’s the most indispensable item in your studio?

It depends on what you’re working on, whether I’m missing one element more than another. But what I can certainly not be without is music, to accompany me in the process and in the moments of fatigue and a board as a table that can mess and doodle on.

What other forms of creativity do you enjoy, other than sculpture?

I like reading and investigating the issues that apply to my work. And I always try to feed my restlessness and spirit with poetry. The cinema is something that also accompanies me in my day to day. In fact, I always tie into my work everything that nourishes me.

What food, drink, song inspires you?

My studio is out of the house and I usually go there in the morning and stay there to maximize my time. So I usually eat out on weekdays. Since in my studio I have no kitchen, no food, because I usually work with polyester resin, enamel paint and other toxic materials. The only thing that accompanies me in the studio is a coffee maker and a kettle. I am very much a coffee drinker and during my day I drink coffee several times. In regards to music, it is a very important aspect for me. My musical taste is varied and depends on how I find myself and what I am working on. Of course, there are days and pieces in which I put a song and I repeat it over and over again all day as if I were in a trance. This has happened to me with many songs of different styles. To put an example, the song of «The Desert» of Lhasa de Sela.

 

marinavargas

Professionally, what’s your goal?

My goal is to be able to live doing my job and live from my job. It is also to ensure that women in art and culture have the visibility and power they deserve. That the new generations have female references within the history of art, as well as science or literature. Because there are, but they are not studied because they are not published in books. Moving these foundations of the past to improve the present and future is another objective goal in which I am working with my colleagues in our group, «Tertulia La Roldana».

What project are you currently working on?

I am currently continuing my research and work with tarot. I started this project in 2016 and I consider it a life project . A project that aims to create my own deck. Making each card into a painting that is related to the rest of the works because everything serves a symbolic order. Making the tarot into an exhibition and the deck a work that combines all my interests: mythology, symbolism, the ancestral, mysticism, enigmatic images and the ability to visualize. In order to build my own deck, I am progressively drawing a card and I never exclude any cards even if I have already drawn them. The  most logical thing in the tarot is that there is a possibility that a card will be repeated or that a card is never drawn. That is why I approach the project from within the deck. And it is the process itself that marks the developments time.

When and where is your next exhibition?

At the moment I have just finished a piece that is exhibited at the Instituto Cervantes in Madrid and that will be traveling through different venues such as Rome, Palermo and Sofia. The work is part of the collective exhibition, «The Forms of the Soul» curated by Susana Blas Brunel. I am currently working on my next solo show, «Excusatio non petita pecata manifesta» for Costantini Art Gallery in Milan-Italy. And I’m also preparing what will be my second solo show, at the Javier López & Fer Francés Gallery. This last project will continue my research and work on the tarot. Project that I started in 2016 at the ABC Museum of Drawing and Illustration in Madrid under the curator Óscar Alonso Molina.

And out of curiosity … What is your favourite color?

I’m guessing red… Each color has its symbolism and its different conceptions depending on the place and culture. White for Europeans is a color that represents peace, serenity and that usually leads couples in their marriage and yet in India is the color used in widows for mourning. By this I mean, that it is very difficult for me to have a favourite color.

Although there is no doubt that in my work the most predominant of them all is red. I suppose that in some way it is the color that mediates me with the rest of the colors. Red is a wake-up call, it is alertness and it is also the color that represents blood, wound, vulnerability and violence. I suppose that to be in relation with this color is to enter fully into the control that there must be to manage between the instinctive and the rational.

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