The works of the Spanish painter Marina Roca Die present images of sensual fusion. They deal with the unity of body and nature and the merging of humans in the act of love. This unity corresponds to the dissolution of the opposition between figuration and abstraction: These paintings are both figurative and abstract at the same time.
The trees and flowers here take on human forms and behaviors, and humans transform into flowers and trees. Just as the landscape is seen as a living organism, the human body is a landscape: with hills, valleys and plains, with expanses and densities. In these paintings it is always summer, with flowers and blooming: Is it Love, or is it Summer? asks a picture title – well, the artist was in love when she painted this flower picture, and she tends to the body of her beloved as she tends her garden. “Gardening of body parts,” she calls it.
Marina’s father is a landscape painter, and so the two of them often strolled around the enchanting landscapes of the Mediterranean. The father always had paper and watercolours with him, just for her. They spent a lot of time on the island of Menorca, whose beauty is praised in her work Sacred Secret: She is very keen that the island should be spared from tourism and preserved in its originality – its beauty should remain a secret.
the human body
Apart from these vedute, it is the human body, in particular the female one, that stands at the center of this work – even if the figure is not always recognizable. Marina Roca Die grew up in Madrid, where she explored the great works of Spanish art at the Prado or other high-profile collections. One central point of interest has been Goya with his mythical creatures and witches, and the cruel dismemberments of the body; another is the magician Picasso with his brilliant colors and, again, deformations of the human body, if in a more theoretical way.
The masters of gestural figuration expand the circle of models and inspirers: Egon Schiele, Francis Bacon, Georg Baselitz, Lucian Freud – they all deal with the morphing and dissection of the body. Fittingly, the artist speaks of “my obsession with the deformation of human figure”, and she says: “I think that art should assert the primitive nature of human being”, referring not least to sexuality.
Witches play a special role in Marina Roca’s art. These creatures had a great deal of knowledge about nature, trees and plants. And they stand for the instinctive, the animalistic and the peculiar, in other words: a lot of the things that are of interest to Marina. “It was joyful to be a witch,” she says; she wants to rehabilitate these somewhat infamous beings – also in the context of feminism – and wrest the subject matter from oblivion.
This peculiar world culminates in the Witches’ Sabbath, to which Marina dedicated her Aquelarres series with the witches whizzing happily through the air. For these works, she first formed small figures out of clay, then photographed them and used the photos as a template for her paintings. They are the only figures that she represents in a naturalistic way. However, they have goat heads, which is a small side blow against Goya, who did not like the witches, they were too irrational for him. In his Witches’ Sabbaths, he has them, according to tradition, led by a billy goat, the devil. In Marina’s paintings the witches do not need such guidance, they are the male goat themselves.
Theoretical points of reference for this work are the feminist considerations of Judith Butler, Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis, and in particular the theories of psychiatrist Jacques Lacan: “I find it extremely pleasurable to analyze his work and I find a lot of inspiration from it that I can apply to myself and to my artwork.” She refers to Lacan’s reflections on the body, sexuality and the other. Human desire is always the desire of the other, says Lacan, who owned Gustave Courbet’s once scandalous painting The Origin of the World, the image of a female nude with her lap wide open.
But as important as these theoretical-philosophical references are: “The pleasure I feel by mixing oil colors is something I couldn’t find in any other field of study.” In addition to all narrative and theoretical content, it is above all painting itself that plays an outstanding role in this work. The colours are earthy-sensual, dark and mysterious, then again bright and blooming. The brush stroke is tentative and fleeting, then violently moving and expressive, but always lively and very to the point.
The style and the application of paint resemble the human body: soft and yielding as well as strong and hard. Similar to the paintings of a Willem de Kooning, the oil paint immediately transforms into human skin. The brushstrokes not only document the dissolution of the body, they are the body.
Please view the artist’s works in our exhibitions Figures & Faces, Part 1 and Painterly Abstractions: The Grand Gesture. Also, please see the artist’s page on artitious and her interviews in 365 Artists 365 Days and The Asian Curator. And you might be interested in some artists in this gallery working in a similar way: Joanna Buchowska, Henri Haake, Janes Haid-Schmallenberg, Christine Krämer and Aaron Rahe.
Marina Roca Die was born 1988 in Madrid, since 2012 she lives and works in Berlin.
|2008-2012||Painting, Drawing and Anatomy at the Estudio Arjona, Madrid|
|2011||Course on Anatomy of Human Body – Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London|
Chinese Painting with Master Li Chi Pang, Madrid
|2008-2010||Life Drawing Sessions at Círculo de Bellas Artes, Madrid|
Merit Scholarship, Estudio Arjona, Madrid
Course “Ceguera Contemporánea vs. Pintura”, José Manuel Ciria, Círculo de Bellas Artes, Madrid
|2006-2009||Cycle of Applied Arts of Sculpture of Higher Degree of Plastic Arts and Design at the School of Art La Palma, Madrid|
|2019||Not Bodies, Excavo Fine Arts Gallery, London, Canada, Solo Show|
Nasty Women Art Exhibition, De Balie, Amsterdam
|2018||Premio BMW de Pintura – Casa de Vacas del Retiro, Madrid|
Exchange Berlin Biennale (by Sluice), Kühlhaus, Berlin
|2017||The Body is in the Eye, BBA Gallery, Berlin|
Fieber Festival, Meinblau Galerie, Berlin
Femfest, by Sweet Art, Ugly Duck Gallery, London
Air Open, Air Gallery, Altrincham, Manchester
Nasty Women Art Exhibition, Josilda da Conceição Gallery, Amsterdam
The Early Days; Kreuzberg Pavillon, Berlin
|2016||C.A.R. Contemporary Art Ruhr, Art Fair, Essen|
Body Talks – Gallery Nomad, Berlin
|2015||XXS, BBA Gallery, Berlin|
Too Animal, Too Human, Gallery Nomad, Berlin, Solo Show
Emerging Artists Vol. 2, BBA Gallery, Berlin
|2014||Simultan, Studio 74, Berlin|
In Stücke Zerrissen, Joachim Rongs Galerie, Berlin