GF: Can you tell us about your recent trip to Instanbul and how that experience shaped this latest body of work during the residency?
Carlos Mare: I was invited along with 20 other artists to Istanbul by curator Roxane Aryal and the Pera Museum to take part in a show called Language of the Wall. The whole exhibition was an onsite presentation of contemporary Urban Art painting and Sculpture.
The experience was tremendous, it was my second time in Istanbul this time as an artist, previously it was for an academic presentation. My first experience there was eye opening culturally and creatively, Istanbul’s rich history and modernity appealed to me and informed the work that was to come. I had already been developing Islamic motifs in my work but I wanted to delve deeper into the culture so I spent a great deal of time with scholars and visited historic sites to better understand it and how I could artistically respond.
On my first visit I met Turbo who is one of the elder statesmen of the Hip-Hop and Graffiti culture in Istanbul. He invited me to participate in this exhibition he was working on with curator Roxanne Aryal. Over the year of preparation the the day came and upon arriving I met with Futura and old friend and former studio mate, we were to stay the duration at a really funky and fun hotel next to the museum. Imagine a huge collective of international artists having run of the hotel rooftop bar and a museum. There was definitely a camaraderie and appreciation by all involved and that helped us all out in some way with our work. For me it was motivational to be bouncing around from room to room talking with everyone, those I knew and those who knew of me.
While all of the paintings were done directly on the museum walls by most of the invited artists. I chose to work at a foundry offsite where no one else could see or interact with me. I had my translators and documenters with me everyday which helped me a great deal both in getting a personal take of the country Im visiting and in assisting with the fabricators. All these factors helped shape the work I was to make. I’m an immersive artist, I go in like I’m hitting a layup, museums and galleries are not a precious space to me like it is to most of these young artists today, infact this is one of the best parts of the curatorial direction of Mrs. Arayal to have artists do work directly on the walls, notably KR (Krink had a spectacular install that was direct to my point.
GF: How important is it working in residency on these sculptures as I am sure a fair amount of planning must go into preparation before your arrival?
Carlos Mare: I don’t plan much parse, I had some technical drawings for a specific work that was highly detailed with Islamic motifs, other than that I go in cold and work with material directly. Ive always maintained that I work as efficient and effectively as a painter with metal. Ive mastered this for myself way back when I began making sculpture in 1985 due to issues of scarcity but also to maintain that writers mentality of going in making the work and getting out. Style Masters like myself understand the value in that so we don’t fuss much and have complete command of our craft, sculpture is no exception.
When I arrived at the foundry I started picking up metal twice my size and put my muscle into it, I know how to draw in space very well and so I can see forms before I even shape them, as well I improvise, I use my full capacities to help arrive at forms that can address my critical and emotional concerns. Meaning I talk to the work, I use my full body, I use light, I use coincidence as well.
GF: We have talked about scale before with your work and I was pleased to see that you created some larger works for the exhibition, how did you decide on the scale of this series?
Carlos Mare: The large scale sculpture was an amazing thing to make and surely to watch its making. It was purely improvisational and unexpected. When I walked into the foundry I grabbed this huge piece of material and began to ‘dance’ with it to feel out where it would naturally take its shape but also where it will need to be forced into shape. I knew this would be the structural foundation of something yet to be determined. I liked the circular cut outs since they play to use of light as an element so I was confident that the material and scale would yield something impressive. As I waited for my cut materials I kept grabbing other materials and proceeded to make smaller unassembled studies, kind of like warming up but mindful of what I can use later on. One of my favorite works ever is ‘Open letter to David Smith’, this work channeled what Ive learned from his work regarding drawing in space which I find relative to what we do as style writers, we draw in space, our work unless brushes are used are in this vain.
GF: One of my favorite aspects of the Instanbul work was the textures and material you used for the sculptures, was there any connection with the material used and geographical location?
Carlos Mare: Yes the material plays an important role not so much in defining geography, that is best expressed by the Islamic motifs we cut but the mixing of materials was critical in how they were used for instance the ‘Dance of the Whirling Dervish’ sculpture uses materials that one wouldn’t necessarily combine, cold rolled steel and stainless steel, this is not by design but by destiny, I had no plan for this but since I had already grappled with the large material with the cut outs I decided to use the material remnants of my cut pieces. Ive been doing this for many years, I used all my material, nothing gets tossed if I can help it, this is why I produced so many works in a few days, the material is repurposed and allows me to explore and invent new types of languages. In this piece the language ‘Dance of the Whirling Dervish’ is applicable to the location and its cultural iconography yet it has elements that nod back to style writing in the cut outs. More importantly Islamic art deals with light and shadows, Im very mindful of this in my process its ‘my paint’ it affords me a truth to form that I wouldn’t have if I painted the work. My sculpture with the Islamic motifs cut out also was created in this vain and speak specifically to the geography and history of Islamic art. Its a decorative work in some respect but that’s by design, it was also improvisational as well but the use of patterns more of a design effort to me. I like it but not as much as I do the ‘Dance of the Whirling Dervish’ and ‘Open letter to David Smith’ or the Bboy abstract sculptures I made during install.
GF: Working in residency on location like you did for this project you are confronted with some time constraints when creating work as labor intensive as yours, how do you deal with these time constraints and do you prefer working under this pressure?
Carlos Mare: There was no pressure other than organizational logistics, moving work and assembly is always considerable but since I am forgiving in my process I don’t fret too much and keep it moving. One can see this play out in the variety of ideas all these work project and how when viewed all at once that the relationships to one another are meaningful, that they all speak to this immediacy in my process, a call to action in form and space in many ways its like a 3 man whole car window down burn if I could use subway graffiti terminology. As I mentioned before I mastered my process and it has always been in some way against time, its the memory of going to a layup, get in get out, so I went in with this mentality, it takes nothing away from the integrity or quality of my work so I am as efficient and affective as a painter. I made a total of 7 sculptures in a short time span, so while others fretted with big murals I was cranking out some significant works. I also cannibalize all my materials, meaning like the Eskimo who kills an animal he honors it by using it entirely.
GF: Tell us what the future holds for Carlos Mare and any projects coming up?
Carlos Mare: My studio practice will take a back seat for a bit while I launch an important educational platform for us, the Hip-Hop Education Center, its where we will be able to develop high quality educational curriculum and tools for telling our stories and history. My partner and I Martha Diaz who began this effort are invested in educating and exposing our peers and kids to our contributions, we found that we are not alone in this as many of us have become teaching artist over the years. What most don’t know is that this pedagogy has been growing for many years in the community and in higher learning institutions, our model is the Communiversity model where we both partner up and create a new and valued learning system that speaks to our generation and the kids that follow.
I have a huge body of work yet undiscovered so I want to showcase them this year as I see many of the up and coming artists touching on things I already explored so I want to afford people to see the depth of my contributions to this urban modernist space. 2016 is where we will see the most significant work and change in direction, 2015 is for honing in on my new language and process as well repositioning myself in the canon of this movement.
I feel like many of my generation that these new artists and taste makers take it for granted that “they stand on our shoulders” and think that we are no longer the vanguard. Some of us still are leading well in advance, this is why you will see a shake up soon and that our efforts with Graffuturism and the next round of books published by artist like myself, Haze, West, Doze and others will need to be reckoned with when history is discussed. No longer can theses artist and taste makers get away with revisionist history. This is why I stress education, because this was built into the culture for me as a kid and somehow its become the norm to dismiss it. While I believe a new history is always being written, it is people like myself and others who continue to push the boundaries and discourse, we value the journey and efforts of those before us and among us. -”The history of Art is always being corrected”- Mare139