Artig Gallery recently came by for a visit and a chat. Here is the interview in full:
When did you start working with photography from an artistic perspective?
In 1999 I started working with digital collage techniques using stock photography I found online. A couple of years later, in 2001 I bought a film camera and started to play around with it. As my practice progressed, I became interested in creating more of my own photographic materials for use in the collages so I switched to digital due to the efficiency aspect. Initially, I didn’t consider photography as more than a basic tool for creating building blocks in my art but the more time I spent with it, the more I fell in love with the thrill of capturing a moment and telling a story all at once, in an instant.
When and where did you decide to become an artist?
In a sense, we are all artists since we create worlds for ourselves on a daily basis. I believe the urge to create is an intrinsic aspect of being human and it is something I have engaged in ever since I was a child. I used to put on theater plays for my neighbors, dance, draw and sculpt. While some people get pulled out of the creative flow as they age, I never stopped, but rather continued to find new creative outlets to explore. I suppose it was after high school when faced with the big decision of what direction I wanted to pursue in terms of higher education that I decided to dedicate my life to art.
What is your favorite artistic movement?
There is so much to learn from the history of art and I find valuable insights into the creative process in most art movements. I think there is a lot of the principles of surrealism, cubism and expressionism influencing the way I work with human figure. All of them have abstraction and distortion at their core in one way or another. They all strive to depict the world in a more profound way than we normally perceive it.
For example, ‘Twisted Flesh’, which was my first major undertaking as an artist, was influenced by surrealists like Magritte, Kahlo, Dali, and the way they merge the unconscious dream world with the waking world into a type of super-reality. It was thrilling to use the body as a material for telling the stories that lie deep within.
What are the latest projects that have been important for you?
‘Phantasmagoria’ has been a completely transformative project for me. While not the first in my ‘Dreamworld’ series, it is the first time I feel I tapped into the core of what this branch of my art is dedicated to – my relationship with the unconscious self and how the dynamic of the creator and observer merges into one experience.
‘Pulsar’ is another project that I feel has pushed me further than ever before in terms of narrative and technical approach. In this series, I created form using a combination of kinetic energy and light instead of the traditional approach of using light to shape and showcase form. I wanted to combine the notion of the embodiment of light with the quantum physics thought experiment (demonstrated by the double slit experiment) that reality doesn’t exist until it is observed.
‘Truth Unveiled by Time’ is also very close to my heart as it was born out of a truly profound interaction with Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s sculptural work in Villa Borghese, Rome. While traveling there to teach an art photography Masterclass, I took a few extra days to indulge in the immense artistic beauty that permeates every corner of Rome. Being face to face with so many of Bernini’s masterpieces, I was infused with a rekindled passion for sheer emotion and form expressed in a minimalist way.
Marius, what did you have for breakfast today?
My girlfriend made the most wonderful Chia pudding with fresh peaches. The combined textural and taste experience was a really indulgent way to start the day.
Who is your hero?
My mother has always been an inspiration to me. Her joy, her selfless love for others and the way she truly enjoys experiencing the world are traits that I very much aspire to foster in my own life. She has always encouraged me to find the beauty in everything and for that, I am eternally grateful to her.
What would surprise people to know about you?
I am extremely organized in every aspect of my life, including my art. Unlike most artists, I thrive on structure, planning and order. A messy environment has never been a place that I can be creative in. Through my artistic process I very much detach from this way of being which gives me a wonderful sense of freedom. Everything leading up to and following the creative act however, is a finely tuned process that never fails me.
What do you do in your free time?
I like to spend my free time with friends or getting some much-needed rest. Aside from that, in the bigger picture, I love to travel. There is so much to see, do and learn in this world that every trip is a revelation. The people, the sights, art, fantastic food and wine, it’s all out there waiting for me to enjoy it.
Who are three of your favorite artists?
Salvador Dali – I fell in love with his work very early on when I was reading a lot of philosophy and psychology books in an attempt to gain insight into the human mind. His fascination with dreams led me to experiment with lucid dreaming which is a technique that allows one to take control of their dreams. Much of my work has been deeply shaped by this process.
Bruno Aveillan is a contemporary photographer and film director. His soft yet powerful, ethereal imagery, carefully crafted and masterfully interpreted is a constant source of inspiration. In his work I find a reflection of my own perfectionist tendencies that always give way to the organic flow of the creative process.
Antoni Gaudí – nothing has left quite as strong an imprint on me as the first time I stepped into Gaudi’s cathedral, “La Sagrada Família” in Barcelona. In my mind, the sheer brilliance exhibited in every detail of that massive building is a testament of his true genius. Drawing upon nature itself, he has created many incredible buildings and public spaces that transcend architecture and create a magical space outside of the ordinary. This way of seeing and creating has inspired me to attempt to do the same using the human figure.
What inspires you?
I become inspired by things I experience while in the state of aimless wandering. There is a term for it “Flâneur” which comes via French from the Old Norse verb “flana” (to wander with no specific purpose). By simply being and opening myself up to random experiences, I find myself flooded with thoughts, images and notions that then form into ideas I can explore in my art.
I am also heavily inspired by my own dreams as well as discussions and interactions I have with other creative minds.
Why is the human body such a source of inspiration to you?
We are endless universes within ourselves. Every person carries a world of potential, beauty, depth, sadness, joy and spontaneity within them, all of which comes out in some form during the creative act. All of this becomes the physical language we speak and there are endless conversations to be had.
How did you came up with the idea of painting and intervening the body in your photographs?
The starting point is always different but the focus is never on the photograph as the end product but rather on the initial idea/impulse I want to explore, and the journey it could take me on. I work with the human body as a medium. I always begin with a flicker of inspiration that leads me to brainstorming various ways to bring it to life using the human figure. Sometimes that process involves paint, distortion, a single muse or multiple bodies, a sculptural approach or something entirely different.
It sounds like you spend a lot of time bringing your own ideas to life. Do you also do any commission work?
As I am both, a graphic designer and visual artist, I am very used to creating a visual product for others. Through my art, I very much enjoy exploring creative ideas in collaboration with others. As a result of this exchange, commission work has always been a part of my process and it has led to some wonderful creative sessions. In recent years, there have been more and more requests for commissioned art shoots. I believe the main reason for this is that in a world where things are becoming more commodified and standardized, people are seeking unique, genuine experiences that they can be a part of. In my photo shoots, I bring people back to that wondrous creative space we all grew up in and give them the tools and freedom to create something unique. The fact that at the end of the process they can take a solid memento of that experience and hang it on their wall only makes the idea that much more appealing.
Some artists feel that giving control to a client means sacrificing their artistic vision, what are your thoughts on that?
As I mentioned above, collaboration has always been at the core of the way I create so I do not feel I am sacrificing my creative vision when doing commission shoots, quite the opposite in fact. Like any rich and fulfilling conversation, the exchange of ideas helps us grow and see things in a new light. Working with someone to craft an idea is not giving up control but rather merging two approaches towards a unified purpose.
As for the shoots themselves, entering the creative state of flow with someone else is not something that can be explained or discussed but rather only experienced. It is a very powerful and intimate exchange that happens outside of the norms of causal interaction.
Describe your artistic style in 3 words:
Abstract, sculptural, figurative
What is your biggest aspiration in life?
To be healthy and sound of mind for many years in order to have time to grow as an artist and explore my inner world through art.
Any advice for emerging artists?
In the beginning, go nuts! Explore, experiment, try many different mediums, approaches and don’t be afraid to create crap. In time, your approach and skills will improve but the drive to pursue the unknown will stay with you. Try not to get too hung up on the technical aspects of your work but focus more on the process and ideas you want to express. Devour knowledge, beauty, moments and express your inner self in the most genuine way you can. Devoting yourself to art will transform you, your environment, and take you places you can’t even begin to dream of.
At the same time, be practical in the business aspect of your art – learn to get your work out there, in front of the right people and keep building new opportunities for yourself. There is no pride to be had in dying a starving artist.