The work Miguel Marina (Madrid, 1989) produced last year can be read as a sort of personal cartography of his life experience in Italy. As though it were a diary, his paintings take us through those places and experiences that Miguel had during his time as a scholarship holder at the Rome’s Academia de España.
However, his initial goal was rather different from what he actually produced during his time in the Italian capital. The artist acknowledges now that the main outcome of his time in Rome has not only been the study of landscape and painting but also the time needed to leave aside some techniques and ways of working already known in order to reach something new.
But it is clear is that the landscape is a key element in Miguel’s work.
If in previous works the artist seemed to look towards a wider landscape (the cosmos or Antarctica, with references such as Yuri Gagarin or Ernest Shackleton), now he lowers his gaze, directing it towards a closer and more specific one: the painting itself, leaving aside the references of historical explorers in order to become himself one of them. Thus, during his stay in Rome, his method of work - not deliberate - was based on three actions: walking, exploring, discovering. And it is precisely this quest that leads to a discovery. As Thoreau, a writer Miguel often quotes, writes in Walking: "... you must walk like a camel, which is said to be the only animal that ruminates while walking".
His walks through the city, his observation of the architecture and colours of neighbourhoods such as Testaccio and Garbatella, the Tevere river, the trips to Pompeii, Calcata and Viterbo and finally Florence, make up a journey through the places that brought him the influences and stimuli he then reflected on his latest works, translating all that classical imaginary into a contemporary art language.
Robert Walser writes in The Walk that he walks as willingly as he writes. In the same way, Miguel Marina walks as comfortably as he paints, but unlike the writer, who considered walking essential to write, Miguel questions whether this wandering may be better used in the studio. However, there is no doubt, as his work shows, that he has been able to find a perfect balance.
It could be said that Miguel Marina is an explorer of painting, in the sense of the latter being its own landscape. An attentive observer, he glides his look over the surfaces, focusing on the apparently minimal details, which he translates into pictorial language as a trace of the observed, transferring us to a mental landscape. In his paintings, he achieves an incredible feeling of depth with an infinite number of textures that sometimes remind us of those multiple layers that may be found in marble as well as ancient mosaics and frescoes’ schemes and tonalities. Miguel captures the light and its incidence on the colours he is attracted by: greens, earths, ochres... a chromatic range that also offers us extra information on the season he painted them.. With a straight brushstroke that caresses the very fine paper as main support, Medina creates a layer of very diluted oil with turpentine - or multiple layers - with hardly any thickness. As the artist explains, he is interested in the skin of paint.
The result is a painting so extremely delicate and subtle that it seems is about to crack in front of our astonished eyes.
On this occasion, Miguel Marina invites us to accompany him to Arcetri, a place in Florence where he ended up by chance. The wall decorated with sgraffito that runs along the Via San Leonardo appears before him as a summary of his formal concerns: the need to pay attention to the edges, the margins, in order to return to the centre, to painting, as if it were a logbook about to be completed.
Other places visited by the artist on this trip to Florence - one of his Italian adventure’s last excursions - give name to the pieces that make up this exhibition, such as the Renaissance building at the Museum of San Marco, which houses, among others, Fra Angelico’ s wonderful frescoes, and the Basilica of San Miniato al Monte. It also includes a sculptural piece that shows his experimentation during this period with new ways of working around painting and drawing through volume, an extension of his formal approach to landscape, in a pictorial dialogue.
Arcetri represents Miguel Marina’s most significant concerns and motivations during last year. A turning point that closes a period so that the walk may continue.