Interview with painter Sara Martínez

Interview with painter Sara Martínez

Where are you from and what was life like growing up there?

I am from L’Alcora, an industrial and ceramics town in Castellón. Growing up in my town has been fundamental to forming my identity. Specifically, regarding my political identity, since my town is Valencian and my family is quite a traditional and working-class family, so I have inherited part of the Valencian identity and I have it very present. 

I also think that my creative side owes a lot to have parents who work in the ceramics sector. When I was little my father worked with a mixture of design materials and with a kind of silk screen printing materials (it’s a bit difficult to explain hahaha). I spent a lot of afternoons after school watching him working.


What is your first memory of being creative?

The game is the first memory I have linked to creation, although it was something I did unconsciously and without any creative pretensions. 

Even as a child, my environment thought that I was going to end up dedicating myself to some artistic branch, although I think that at that time I was not excessively creative or had great creator abilities. I think it was more a personality matter: how restless I was and how I was building myself up. I guess they knew how to read me very well and that’s one of the reasons why I’m here.

Can you walk us through your creative process?

My creative process starts with an intensive search for images. They are usually saturated images, within the framework of a party or collective celebration, that attract me and remember the pictorial; I feel that I am always looking for an incentive in that choice that helps me to configure different imaginaries from those portrayed in the photo, and that can be configured pictorially as independent realities. From this large number of images, I sift through and end up staying with the ones that interest me most essentially. 

At this moment, for example, I am looking for many images, not only to use them as a reference for painting but also to be able to access them as references of other artists that stimulate me and move me to generate work. 

I feel that my process is constantly changing. Now I make sketches and maps, and I try to thread the concepts and materials I want to work with, I am being more analytical. I used to paint directly with the reference images, it was a very intuitive process, in which painting and discourse merged within the creative process. Now I feel that active reflection outside the process is also operating. Even so, I don’t discard any way of creating; it’s just that now I need to do it in a different way to generate new things that go beyond painting. I try to find other types of materials and processes and implement them in painting, to explore other languages without leaving them aside.

In addition to the images, I also collect fragments of books, usually essays, but also poetry and narrative. Regarding essays, I’ve been reading Sara Ahmed for some time and now I’m going to start with Eva Illouz. Lately, I’ve been giving my all to Katherine Mansfield and Meryem El Mehdati.

How would you describe your style of art?

In the painting sector, I am part of figurative painting. I work in two formal lines: the mural and easel painting. 

I understand artistic creation and the practice of painting as a way of being, understanding, and doing. A way of constructing a vision of the world, of our environment, and of ourselves.


What are some of your early inspirations and have those changed over the years?

My first inspiration was Space Jam and also Goya. The last one continues to inspire me formally. 

Right now, I am inspired by my environment. I’m surrounded by people in the creative field who are great. To name a few (and leaving out many others): Las Mediocre (@lasmediocre), a Valencian collective. Girls who try to establish artistic relationships based on friendship and care. Maria Doménech (@madremiamari), establishes relationships within our generational context, resignifying and playing with concepts such as failure, precariousness, and the minor. Paula Escrig is a poet who speaks of intimacy and female and child subjectivity, through tenderness and fear. Alba Boscà (@alba_bosca), a fellow muralist, painter, and many other things, who tries to establish relationships between the dreamlike and the everyday. Paula Lorenzo (@pau.power) photographer and curator who works with the investigation of theories that encompass the queer.

People of my generation, are showing that you can make proposals from the otherness and from other spaces that are not necessarily institutionalized. I would also like to mention Andrea Abreu (@andreaabreulopez), writer of Panza de Burro or Meryem El Mehdati (@meryem.elmehdati), writer of Supersaurio, already mentioned, and Cris Lizarraga (@crisssliz), singer of Belako and writer. I conceive of all these people as part of a group from which I draw inspiration daily.

What does art mean to you?

For me, art has to do with the relationships between things and spaces. In my case, until now, painting has worked as a tool that helped me to communicate with my surroundings and to position myself with some aspects of my life and questions about my generation. 

This is why I conceive art as a way of making and understanding at a local level, and of being able to establish dialogues within creation.


Do you have any hobbies outside of art?

It is difficult to have hobbies outside the field of creation… to quote Remedios Zafra: “our daily life revolves around the work that runs through every part of our life”. Even so, I try to go to the mountain, dance, go to the country house, cook in the wood oven, and eat. In short, I would say eating, reading, and sharing quality time with my affective bonds.  

What is a small bit of advice you could give new artists starting in the industry?

Even though I think this is too big for me, I would tell them (and myself): 

“Be a scoundrel. The drive and the ability to create belong to you, they don’t come from external incentives. Painting is part of your identity, even if you are precarious and working as a waitress, and it’s something they can’t take away from you (or can they? hahaha). Generate collective[s] and, from there, support networks (but not only in the art world), so try to face up to them and don’t get fooled by anyone. And if you can’t face up to them and you’re fooled, nothing happens, it’s alright”.


What projects do you have coming up?

I am currently studying for a Master’s Degree in Artistic Production in Valencia and at the same time, I continue researching and submitting projects to calls for proposals. At this moment, I am getting into a project farther away from painting as such, although it is also very present in it. It is still in the development phase, but it combines elements such as wood and various organic materials. I have called it Fun Dimension, although the other day some friends called it Fun Fun, and I think it’s so funny. For me, it makes a lot of sense that other people participate in my projects, and this is why in this case I’m recruiting people from my environment to take part in it.

In addition, some colleagues from the master’s program and I are thinking of making a self-managed group exhibition, and it is exciting to see how it can generate conceptual and participatory relationships between the artists. I am very excited to work with friends who do things differently from me and to strive to reach common ground.   

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Images © Sara Martinez
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