Oscar Luis Martinez
The place where we are born and grow up has an attraction and a mystic effect on our psyche and souls. Even if one chooses not to go back home the choice in itself is subject to the knowledge that there is a home to go back to. Being able to make that choice gives one peace, a sense of belonging and refuge. Home to me is Maraguez. My memories of this place are still with me. In my paintings I attempt to capture a bit of Maraguez full of folklore, myth, spirituality and beauty.
Maraguez gave way to a dam and is now under water. It has returned to the womb of nature and someday it will be born again. In the meantime, I cannot return home. Now it lives in my memories, soul and my heart. I can only remember the sound of the trees being caressed by the tropical winds and disrupting the night's eternal silence. Our house, surrounded by mountains and dense vegetation, become a stage dressed in the glitter of shining stars in the pitch-black sky. My grandfather's violin accompanies the melody of the river flowing in our backyard; my grandmother sings nature's mystical performance that breathes life into our family. In the morning, the silence of this tropical stage is broken by the calling of roosters, hailing life and death, dawn and dusk, which are symbols of home.
The absence of home only enhances the images, the colors, and the sounds. My paintings unfold the mysteries of life's duality and influences of eras embedded in shared traditions. Time and spiritual awareness become poetic metaphors for rhythm and movement, and the stories, which end up as painted images reveal time's effect on my perceptions of realty and myself.
Relationship to Chicago:
I found it difficult at first to work in Chicago because of the lack of venues that were willing to accept Latino artists. This has changed dramatically even though we are still a long way to go, like with commercial galleries and the need for Latino collectors.
My artwork is about creating the appearance of stories and dramas that are based on reality, dreams and the imagination. This symbolic visual world is based on the illusions that help us give order to an incomprehensible world. I use a personal symbolic vocabulary or metaphors and a complex layering of time and space that are repeated to create a visual memory. This allows me to define my own sense of the metaphysical aspects of life. I use figures, shapes and forms in combination or separate to create a range of possibilities in the visual vocabulary of my artwork.
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