Artist Dani Marti: Exploring sexuality and intimacy is an obsession

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Spanish-Australian artist Dani Marti is preparing to exhibit for the first time in Western Australia. Marti has been working for years, experimenting with and honing his craft through mixed media, such as hand-woven canvases and audio visual works.

Marti creates stunning, intense, avant-garde portraiture that challenges aspects of reality to learn more about a subject, in unique and unconventional ways. Leigh Hill spoke to the artist about his upcoming exhibition for the Perth International Arts Festival.

What draws you to your chosen mediums for making art?

“I work with two mediums mainly, one is between painting and sculpture – using weaving to create materials and surfaces and I also work with video. Everything started for me a long time ago, from the ‘70s when I used to do macramé and weaving, tapestries. I love creating those surfaces. When I decided to become an artist I tried painting and I felt very frustrated with the surface, so I went back to the medium I was using when I was 8/9 years old. I started weaving ropes and treating those as a painting medium. Instead of painting on a canvas, I was weaving the canvas. From there the materials expanded to things like scourers (for washing dishes) or necklaces or road reflectors and manipulating them to create another surface. I was always drawn to very minimal, monochromatic surfaces and I wanted to give some narrative to those obstructions.”

It seems much of your work deals with sexuality and intimacy as well?

“I think more than exploring sexuality and intimacy, this is an obsession. This is an obsession with video work and woven work. It’s an obsession with bondage, or taping. Trying to get close and tie something to some reality. I use intimacy or sexuality as a vehicle to get close to a subject or a sense of reality. Sometimes in my video works you see there’s very little space between the lens and the subject, they’re very claustrophobic works. For me video is like taping, like bondage. Taping an emotion, taping a reality. It may be a thrill, it may not, I don’t care – there’s something there.”

Dani Marti Mother (composition in black  blue) 2014-2015

What kind of works can we expect to see in your exhibition ‘Black Sun’?

“There’s a big important body of work called ‘Mother’ and ‘The Pleasure Chest’ and those are these woven canvases made with mainly second-hand necklaces. I started working with second-hand necklaces about 15 years ago – the whole notion of the necklace is; the necklace is next to the neck, woman, behind the neck is the story, the rosary, a sense of time. Sometimes when you collect the necklaces you can still smell the wearer, so these collections of work are about senses, about women and the emotions conveyed being a woman. When you look at the work, it felt right. Even the colour, the different canvases, black, white, you get different feelings from the necklaces. It may feel light, sometimes it feels creepy, like a mortuary.”

Leigh Hill

Dani Marti’s ‘Black Sun’ exhibition will be held at the Fremantle Arts Centre as part of the Perth International Arts Festival from Sunday 7th February – Monday 28th March. This is a FREE event.

Artist Dani Marti will be giving an artist’s talk today at 11am. 

Image:- Dani Marti, Golden Years video still (2014), second image: Mother (composition in black and blue) 2014-2015 

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