Cat smashes in paintings by Mauro Martinez

Cat smashes in paintings by Mauro Martinez

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Mauro Martinez is an American painter known for his clever use of metaphor, irony, and dark humor in his artwork. He takes aim at today's internet-obsessed culture and social media frenzy. And let's face it, what would the internet be without those adorable cat pictures? Martinez takes a playful jab at this in his latest series of paintings, where cat bodies serve as tennis balls, even if we often only catch a glimpse of them as mere shadows...

The latest exhibition by Mauro Martinez, held earlier this year in London, combines realistic paintings of tennis players with a surprising twist: instead of a ball, there's a flying cat. Its title, "Practice Makes Purrfect," reveals that the painter explores the importance of regular practice and draws parallels between an athlete's training and artistic practice. Both require patience and constant refinement. Martinez adds his trademark dark humor to contemplate the repetitive nature of training, placing a shadow of a cat instead of a ball for the players to hit, inviting viewers to reflect on the continuous process of improvement.

Mauro Martinez, Practice Makes Purrfect 16, 2023. Source: Artsy

Mauro Martinez, Practice Makes Purrfect 7, 2023. Source: Ocula

The paintings capture athletes in moments of focused training, without the looming threat of opponents or cheering crowds. They emphasize individual competitiveness and allude to the athlete's own ambitions and efforts to surpass themselves. In a dialogue with themselves and the hapless cat ball, the tennis player becomes a symbol of contemplation.

I see myself as a tennis player ready to do whatever it takes to win, as well as a cat that has found itself in free fall due to its own curiosity

A Close Look at the Tennis Player is Inspired by Sports Photography

Mauro Martinez draws visual inspiration from sports photography of tennis matches, combining a bird's-eye view perspective, vibrant court colors, sharp lighting, and distinct shadows. He portrays athletes frozen in motion, often at decisive moments, such as when serving or volleying. To some extent, Martinez may be more interested in the aesthetics of tennis photography than the sport itself; indeed, in his earlier series, he focused on photographing interiors or depicting environments.

Exhibition: Practice Makes Purrfect. Source: Unit London.

At first glance, Martinez's paintings may resemble hyperrealistic images, but upon closer inspection, one can see the sweeping strokes of the artist's hand. 'These paintings are actually the freest I've created in recent times. They represent a return to the painting style I used before deciding to explore photorealism. At the same time, I've maintained a certain level of precision, which often causes the viewer to overlook the chaos of the brushstroke itself,' said Martinez about his painting technique. To emphasize the individual feelings of the athlete, he works with close-ups, digitally composing his compositions and adding shadows or images of real cats on the computer.

Martinez Criticizes Digital Culture with Blurred Paintings and Photorealistic Images

In his previous work, Martinez critiqued the iconography of contemporary digital culture through satirical paintings – memes, warnings about censorship, or Instagram tags. Through realistic painting, he mocks our relationship with viral images on the internet, to which we, as a digital society, are increasingly exposed. Martinez's paintings are not only humorous but also full of metaphors and irony

Mauro Martinez, "People with Paintings #1," 2020. Source: Artist's website.

Mauro Martinez's style is versatile and always stems from the theme he focuses on in a particular series of paintings. He mostly works with oil paintings, but he employs various techniques and styles, ranging from realistic ones resembling photography to much more expansive ones. He often chooses additional techniques; for example, his series "Sensitive Content" was based on a blurred image, so he decided to use an airbrush. In paintings containing bold textual messages, he utilizes screen printing.

The aforementioned "Sensitive Content" series is his most renowned work. It provides a sarcastic perspective on the absurdity of social media censorship by depicting a blurred image overlaid with a warning layer. In a humorous manner, it comments on the dilemma between protecting users and the right to freedom of expression on online platforms.

Mauro Martinez, Sensitive Content No. 18, 2020. Source: Artist's website.

Mauro Martinez is an American painter based in Texas. He studied at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, and his works have been showcased in both group and solo exhibitions, including venues in the United States and the United Kingdom. His paintings are featured in the collections of galleries worldwide, such as the Bunker Foundation (Rudin Woody Collection) in Los Angeles, the Emergency Art Foundation in Beirut, Lebanon, the M+ Museum and Para Site in Hong Kong, and the Robbins Collection in London.

Mauro Martinez. Source: Unit London

Mauro Martinez, Practice Makes Purrfect 9, 2023. Source: Artsy

Mauro Martinez, Practice Makes Purrfect 10, 2023. Source: Artsy

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Published 22.03.2024

Kateřina Hubertová je redaktorka, blogerka, PRistka a psavec různých textů o tom, co ji baví a zajímá. Mezi její témata patří cestování, kterému věnuje svůj blog Kachna se kochá, památky, architektura, divadlo a výtvarné umění, o kterém má příležitost psát právě v magazínu Sport in Art. Jejím cílem je tato někdy trochu složitá témata podat tak, aby to byla hlavně zábava, ať už jde o historickou bojovku, procházku po Praze nebo povídání o málo známém umělci.

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