Artist Jamie Martinez is nothing short of extraordinary. From growing up in Colombia and Florida, to curating shows at his space, The Border Project Space, Jamie has led a life full of art and passion. Not simply passion for his own art though. Martinez works to bring forth artists who immigrated to the United States, giving them a chance to tell their story, through their art. His determination and deep-rooted loved for art is evident in his work, and the work he does to help others.
We were able to ask him a few questions, just to understand better how he works, why he works, and what he is working for.
Art Zealous: What is your background on your phone?
Jamie Martinez: Waves! I’ve been surfing since I was very young, so I have a big passion for the ocean and I think of waves as a big inspiration in life.
AZ: What is your astrological sign?
JM: Since I am Native American from the Pijao Tribe in Tolima, Colombia, I go by their interpretation and not the Greek version. I am a Raven which fits me perfectly as I have always had a special connection to Ravens and birds.
AZ: What music are you currently listening to?
JM: Jazz… lots of Jazz in the studio plus a bit of the 80’s and some spiritual meditation music.
AZ: How did you get your start?
JM: I used to hang out with this group, and we would put pop-up shows together. Then I met a couple of gallerists and curators which led me to be included in group shows at different galleries.
AZ: Which artists inspire you/do you admire?
JM: Some of my favorites are Pablo Picasso, Sol Lewitt, Tony Smith, Frank Stella, Eduardo Terrazas, and Larry Bell to name a few.
AZ: Talk to us about your process.
JM: My process involves constructing, deconstructing, and fragmenting images, data and information geometrically into triangulated segments. My recent paintings, sculptures and mixed media work explore the relationship, communication, and documentation of the exchange between the art, the artist and the viewer. I am interested in connecting people via art events, blogging, networking, art projects and my new space in Bushwick, NY called The Border.
AZ: Your work feels very inspired by natural sources, such as your use of metals, greenery, and triangular forms. Can you elaborate on this?
JM: My work is very inspired by nature. I think this is because I am Native American. I love to explore natural things that will help me synchronize with the environment. In my latest project, I put three shows together. The idea here was to make a single geographical triangle from these 3 shows. The first show Intricate Neighbors was held at The Border from May 3rd – June 9th then Intricate Neighbors II which was held at Galerie Protégé from May 17th – June 17th, and last but not least, I was part of a two-person show through Chashama that was on view from May 3rd – May 26th in Midtown. So, from May 17th – May 26th, which is the time when all 3 shows were open to the public. I created an ephemeral imaginary triangle that stretched from Bushwick to Chelsea to Midtown NYC. This was by far the hardest art piece I have ever made. It took months to plan and lots of long nights executing the ideas.
AZ: Triangles have been an incredibly symbolic shape in history; in religious contexts, political systems, and in art history itself. What does the triangle represent to you?
JM: Here are a few reasons: 3 dimensions, x, y, z; 3 brothers, Trinity: God, who is father, son and Holy Spirit; they are also the basic building blocks of everything according to a couple of new quantum physics theories; they are the atoms of virtual reality and 3D printing; when combined they become even stronger because triangles spread the weight evenly throughout the form; all cultures have used them as symbols; it is the most mysterious geometric form and the fastest way to connect three dots. I can go on forever on this.
AZ: What is your process of deconstruction like?
JM: That depends on the work I am doing. Most of the time I start with an image or idea that I like, then I break it down into the most important points I see, then finally I connect the points. By connecting the points, you automatically triangulate the image. On another note, my abstract paintings deal with connecting people. A misconception about my work is that the paintings are perfectly triangulated, and that cannot be further from the truth. When you look close up to these paintings, you will see that they are full of little mistakes. I love mistakes.
Another example of deconstruction in my work is my art blog Arte Fuse. I consider this one of the most important pieces of my work that stands on its own. It’s based on documenting the energy of the art world to create new work by then deconstructing and triangulating the articles/information to create a new piece, based on connecting people and shifting reality.
AZ: Did spending the first 12 years of your life in South America impact your artwork today?
JM: Growing up in Cali, Colombia was an amazing experience which has given me the culture and knowledge to create better work with a deeper meaning and understanding.
AZ: You work with a fair amount of immigrant artists at The Border. Can you go into detail about what those experiences are like, working with artists from other cultures?
JM: It’s truly amazing to work with such talented artists and amazing human beings from all over the world. In the first show at The Border, we tarped the space with one single seamless blue piece, on the second show we built a garden/neighborhood. So far, I have shown artists from Korea, Peru, Slovakia, Israel, Greece, Georgia, USA, India, Pakistan, Puerto Rico, Russia and France. The latest show, Data Spell, curated by Bianca Boragi and myself, will be on view through July 29th at The Border on 56 Bogart in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
AZ: You run Arte Fuse, The Border Project, and you curated a show over at Galerie Protégé. How do you find the time to have your hands in so many projects and still put out quality artwork?
JM: I work a lot! I also have people help me and assist me with the blog and with The Border project space. It’s amazing the amount of positive feedback I get from people. A lot of them volunteer their time and expertise to help me put these shows together. I cannot thank them enough for this.
Art is not only a passion for me, but a lifestyle and philosophy. It’s a lot of work, more than I can handle so it’s nice to do something you love so it doesn’t feel like work. Putting shows together is not easy and I am learning more as I go. The main thing is that I am happy with the shows and I can’t wait to see where this goes.
Data Spell is on view at The Border Project through July 29, 2018 at 56 Bogart St, Bushwick Brooklyn.
top image // Intricate Neighbors II