Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020

THE FULL PICTURE – issue 10

This week, we are talking with a painter who has an amazing ability to chart the innate. I could certainly wax lyrical about the power, drama, directness and/or softness of her compelling work, but I will leave this to the artist herself.
So, let us welcome:

MARTA UTSLER

Marta, Hi,  I’m starting to really missing seeing you and all of our artists, but hope you are well and keeping safe. Just to inform our friends out there, could you say a few words about yourself?
Born in Hampshire; spent most of my life in the U.S.A. and now based in Berwick-upon-Tweed.  I grew up just outside of Chicago, and have been lucky enough to live in many gorgeous states – including Kentucky, where I owned and managed my own art gallery for four years; then it was off to London in 2010. However, after living there for eighteen months, I heard of an artistic community called St. Ives, in Cornwall. On visiting St. Ives, I found an apartment within two weeks, and moved there a month or so later. After living there for four and a half years, I wanted to experience more of the UK, and so relocated to the Scottish Borders, before moving to Northumberland where I now live and work.

Apart from the time you spend as a professional artist, do you also have other occupations, such as part time lecturer/tutor?
No, I am a full time painter.

Where do you work? Do you have a studio/workshop? Tell us a little about this special place.
I have a small studio with large windows that looks out into the garden. It also has underfloor heating, so I am able to use it all year round. It’s special to me because this is the first time I’ve had a studio separate from my home, and it’s a beautiful place to work in.

How has the lockdown affected your time in the studio/workshop?
As with many artists, I work alone in the studio, so in this respect nothing has changed.

Describe a “typical” approach to your work practice
I think about tonal contrasts while applying paint with bold and gestural marks until a proper balance is achieved. This is important to me.

Are you a “must have total silence” kind of creative person, or do you listen to music whilst working?  
I listen to music.

What is your fave music you like to work to? What did you listen to, last?
… My favourites … these include Craig Armstrong and Public Service Broadcasting. As for what I listened to last… . ‘Perils from the Sea‘ by Mark Kozelek

What is the main subject of your inspiration?
Being a non-representational painter the landscape or other references are not needed. What influences and inspires me most, however, is simply a natural, innate feeling when I work.

What medium and techniques do you use to translate your creative ideas? Tell us a little about your creative process.
My approach is completely intuitive, which can mean an editing struggle, balancing multi-layers and the possibility of overpainting. Bold lines, colours and textures provide visual strength to my work, and must always have the right balance in the composition.

YELLOW PIGMENT (Part Two) – Acrylic and pigment on paper, 98cm H x 78cm H framed £475

Looking at the history of art in the Western World at least, where would you place yourself, spirit and style wise? 
Abstract Expressionism is closest to my heart, but many other styles fill my spirit too. For instance, the first time I saw a Giacometti painting, along with his tall walking man skeletal sculptures, at the Art Institute of Chicago, my eyes filled with tears and I was overcome with elation. I’m not quite so affected when looking through art books or at films.

Some people have ‘studio pets’. Do you have one? What’s their ‘contribution’ to your creativity?
No, I don’t have a pet.

What did you do at first to try and adjust to  this new ‘lockdown’ situation?
At first I took long walks, but the current circumstances have not affected my working habits.

What is your favourite pastime? Has the pandemic impacted on your ability to enjoy this?
Reading is my favourite pastime, so in these times, I’m able to read more.

Can you while away the hours with a “good book”? or do you need to do something more active.  Any particular title you would recommend as a “must read once in a lifetime”?
Norton Anthology of English Literature which, to me, is the read of a lifetime.

What about films? What is your favourite film of all?
I enjoy watching movies as often as I’m able to, especially historical movies, of which Frida – based on the life of Frida Kahlo –  is a favourite. Atonement is another favourite; I love documentaries, especially those which are art-related.

Tell us of one of the most beautiful or happy moments in your life?
I can only say that every day is precious, especially in these uncertain times.

What inspires you in life and in art?
There is no greater feeling than to stand before a great work of art from the past. For instance, there are several Turners at the National Gallery, which I was most drawn to, and stood looking at longer than any other artworks in the Gallery’s collection, because everything about them seemed contemporary. Considering that he’s one of Britain’s most beloved painters – yet we’re talking about centuries ago – I find it all so incredible

Who is up there in your esteem in terms of artistic excellence? What is/are your favourite artist(s)?
I have a long list of esteemed artists but two of my favourites come to mind, who are different in style: Richard Diebenkorn and Cy Twombly.

DOUBLE MEANING – Acrylic & graphite on paper, 29.7cm H x 42cm W  SOLD

Any pet hate? – we all have one, it’s OK to say it.
Unsolicited telephone calls.

As a painter, do you have a favourite colour?
I use a lot of black to accentuate areas in my work. I believe it gives it prominence and strength.

It has been said that creatives are often great cooks as they know how to balance food colours, flavours, texture to create that perfect tastebuds experience, do you like cooking? What is your signature dish?
I don’t have a signature dish as such but I love cooking spicy vegetarian meals. I love a bit of heat!

NEW DIRECTION 3 –  Acrylic on paper, 45.7cm x 45.7cm, framed, £300

What are you exploring at the moment, artistically speaking?

Exploring! I like that. I did just finish a piece in which I did much exploration. As mentioned earlier, working intuitively I find new approaches in each painting.

What makes you laugh/cry?
Cry?: I can barely watch the news sometimes because there can be such hatred in the world. 
Laugh?: Those intimate times with friends – and flowing alcohol – which can produce lots of laughs about the absurdities of life.

 What is your favourite tipple?
A fine glass of wine or a nice bubbly.

What is your “naughty but nice” comfort?
Pizza!

 If you could travel, where would you go?
Portugal – I’ve never been.

Finally, going forward, what would you hope we could learn as society/humans from this pandemic. What is your message to the world?
Treasure every day as if it’s your last. I would have to look to someone greater than myself for an objective comment on the wider implications, but I question whether we learn enough from history eg: 1918 / 1919 Spanish ‘flu?

 THANK YOU so much MARTA for sharing these thoughts with us.
I hope our readers would have enjoyed listening to you.
 I, for myself, found it extremely interesting to hear from an artist with a reputation which extends to having work owned by a member of the prominent Guggenheim family in New York.
Marta, in her unassuming way, has indeed omitted to say that her paintings are collected widely in the USA, the UK, Ireland and Australia. 
What I particularly love about her work is the integrity of her expression and the way it conveys a totally unrestrained passion for painting – whether it be in the minimal gestural marks of Yellow Pigment (Part 2) or the more diffuse softness of Eia-sur-Mer (below) or again in the powerful Titan with its dystopian undertones.

Thank you.

EIA-SUR-MER – Acrylic on canvas. 71cm x 71cm, unframed £ 1,000

If you want to know more about Marta and the work shown above, or to simply see more of Marta’s work, please CLICK HERE 

And of course, feel free to send us any comments/ questions at CONTACT US
Thank you for reading and please do stay safe! 


ps.: Our next episode of THE FULL PICTURE will be published on 27th June 2020

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