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Enrique Marty - Soft Cockney

26 May - 07 July 2013

Enrique Marty's oeuvre consists of sculptures, paintings, watercolours, videos and animations. As a whole, it reads as an exploration of the human soul. Stylistically, Marty finds his source in the characteristics of amateur imagery, mass communication and popular narrative techniques, while his methodology is based on the endless recording and reproduction of private experiences and everyday life. The artist does not interpret, but rather records.

On the one hand Enrique Marty's sculptures are three-dimensional portraits, based on moulds of real people. Yet they also connect doll-like aspects to those of statues of Western figurative sculptural traditions, including the Baroque.

In the show ‘Soft Cockney’, his fourth one-man show in Otegem, Marty experiments with the tattoo, a medium that allows him to deal with a number of favourite topics, such as guilt, violence, popular genres, mythology and symbols, in a way that turns his sculptures into paintings. The artist comments his fascination for the tattoo as follows:

“I’m only fascinated with the criminal tattoos. Those of the gangs. Because it means that through their tattoos, right when they have them done, they isolate themselves from society as recognizable members of a criminal group. This is a pact between them. Being permanent, these tattoos become a sort of seal. With a recognizable language if you can read the codes. (...) To make this series, I did research on criminal tattoos and their codes. I asked people who were somehow connected to the world of art (as if selecting a group or a gang, in a way). After making a mould of them and reproducing them as closely as possible, I created an iconography for each one of them. Entirely personalised, based on their personal histories and personality. (...) The sculptures are armed with large knives, which turns them, to some extent, into physically dangerous works. We could say that they’re not victims; they even seem ready to attack the viewer. With the tattoo works, the viewer can become the tortured. (...) I have used tattoos used by the mafia groups that interested me most for this project. The Japanese and Russian Mafia, the Maras, prisoners neo-Nazis, Narco Satanics, etc … I’ve used these groups because they are marginal groups. I studied their iconography, their symbols, and codes and then I played with it.”

Enrique Marty was born in Salamanca, Spain, in 1969. He lives and works in Salamanca, Spain. His unique approach attracted great attention for the first time in Spain with his solo show ‘La Familia’ in Espacio Uno, the then space for young art of the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid, in 2001. In 2004, Harald Szeemann selected him for ‘The Real Royal Trip’, in which Szeemann introduced the contemporary art of the Spanish-speaking countries on the international scene. The exhibition travelled from PS1 New York to the Museo Patio Herreriano in Valladolid. Marty became one of the most outstanding personalities in Spanish contemporary art, which led to a sensational solo exhibition in the MUSAC in Leon in 2006: ‘Flaschengeist / La Caseta del Alemàn’, curated by Rafael Doctor Roncero. Shortly afterwards, Enrique Marty was first shown, still in 2006, in Belgium by Deweer Gallery, with the solo show ‘Aim at the Brood!’. The cooperation with Deweer Gallery led to institutional solos at the GEM / Gemeentemuseum Den Haag (2008), the Kunsthalle Mannheim (2010), and the Fundacion Antonio Perez in Cuenca, Spain (2011). After ‘Dank and Dismal’ in 2009, he brought his third solo show ‘Sainte Guillotine’ at Deweer Gallery in 2010. In 2011, the gallery presented Marty solo at Art Brussels with the installation ‘Art Is Dangerous’.

Marty took part in several important group shows, including the Venice Biennale in 2001 and 2005. He was selected for the exhibition on Spanish post-war art ‘Spain. 1957-2007’, in the Palazzo Sant'Elia (Palermo, Italy), for ‘L'Art en Europe’ in the Domaine Pommery (Reims, France, 2008), for ‘Spanish Video Art’ at ZKM in Karlsruhe (2008), and ‘Hareng Saur - Ensor and contemporary art’ at S.M.A.K., Ghent (2010), among others. In 2011, he took part in the group exhibition ‘GOLD MINE’, with works from the collection of Sirje and Michael Gold, at CSULB, Long Beach, USA.

The exhibition is accompanied by the catalogue ‘Enrique Marty – Soft Cockney’.