"Americas" (2016), Arjan Martins. Photo: A Gentil Carioca.

APublisher Cobogó just launched Arjan Martins, a publication that presents more than 100 works from the repertoire of the carioca artist, in addition to an essay by the organizer of the book, Paulo Miyada, now curator of Tomie Ohtake Institute and assistant curator of the Bienal de São Paulo, another by the critic Michael Asbury, associate professor at Chelsea College of Art and University of the Arts London, and also an interview with Arjan Martins by the historian Raquel Barreto. The volume arrives at bookstores in a bilingual edition.

"Atlantic" (2016), Arjan Martins. Photo: A Gentil Carioca.
“Atlantic” (2016), Arjan Martins. Photo: A Gentil Carioca.

“There's a lot of material that makes me an artist, but it's not necessarily artistic themes,” says Arjan in the book. “Sometimes it is within political science, within economics, within history. Anyway, I think there is a convergence of themes and supports as well. What can make me an artist is a little bit how I receive this information and how I give it back to the world. Understanding that painting is still a medium, a device with which you can reach people. The painting goes back to the history of art, but its message is more horizontal. I think that's what makes me an artist: this friction, this zone of constructive obsessive nonconformity.”

Arjan Martins' work has already been presented in several of the most important institutions in Brazil, such as MAM-SP, MAM Rio, Instituto Tomie Ohtake and MAR (Rio Museum of Art). Born in 1960, in Rio de Janeiro, where he lives and works, the artist began to attend open courses at Parque Lage School of Visual Arts in the 1990s. After a period of intense production that highlighted anatomical figures, his work gradually led to the creation of drawings in which he developed a pictorial technique that mixes empty spaces with textures, colors and intense compositions. The faces of their black figures are often blurred, translating a denial of identity.

In what Miyada defines as “mnemonic cartographies of the histories and the present of black people”, the images of immigrants and African descendants are a fundamental part of the artist's repertoire, evoking issues such as colonial heritage, segregation and invisibility. His imagery works with the symbols of the period of maritime expansion and the slavery of black bodies, such as the caravel, the terrestrial globe and navigation tools as marks of that time. “Arjan Martins’ poetics invites you to remain in a state of crossing, traversing the black ocean that connects Africa, Europe and the Americas in journeys that intersect with those of various thinkers of the black diaspora, such as Frantz Fanon, Édouard Glissant, Derek Walcott, Achille Mbembe and Paul Gilroy – who, in Brazil, are usually read in dialogue with thinkers such as Lélia Gonzalez, Beatriz Nascimento, Abdias Nascimento and Zózimo Bulbul”, adds the organizer.

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