Enterprising, driven by a peaceful and confident dynamics, Mar (1974) has recently been putting together a pantheon of figures which have been accompanying him under several forms: on walls, canvasses, collages. Figures of popular imagination blend in with figures of Greek mythology, old heroes with new super-heroes, contemporary Pop culture living alongside the classical tradition, in a fusion in which gods, demigods and neo-gods have been portrayed under a new stylistic orientation in which he seems to have found a language adequate to channel his ideas, colours, expressivity and emotion. Mar's work is, above all, deeply emotive.
A native of Seixal, on the south bank of the Tagus, where he lived most of his life, he got involved with graffiti in the late 1990s while working in an animation studio where he met some writers from Almada: Roket and Klit.
Mar grew up fascinated with the characters in graphic novels and animation films, "mainly American", which he would later relate to the classical mythological tradition. After an enlightening trip to Greece he realised that the super-heroes of today were after all the heroes of yesterday. His work has been reflecting these crossovers, both on the larger scale of walls covered in spray paint as well as the more intimate scale of canvasses and wood where he has unleashed stylised figures that express games of power and counterpower, emotions, realities and imaginaria, with special emphasis on certain structural elements such as hands and volumetric bodies, in the expression of the very act of drawing. If it clearly and linearly reflects the Pop universe of Marvel and Sesame Street, it also reflects the cryptic world of graffiti, elements of televised trash culture, Shakesperian equations and a whole new bestiary of fantastical creatures, in a line of intensely lowbrow Pop Surrealism.
At the top of his pantheon stands the bird who accompanies him like a personal brand image: protective helmet, fluttering scarf, air of simplicity,
"ringleader of the movement of artistic expression PIU - Programa de Intervencéio Urbana (Urban Intervention Programme) ", he explains; a type of individual signature that came to shape in t-shirts, limited edition screen prints, sequential works on canvas. His creative versatility has enabled him to find a certain balance between commercial work and his authorial work, but sometimes it is tricky. "I want to reach a point in life where I'm able to focus solely on my personal work", he confides. Work which he showcased for years at the group shows while a member of the VSP - Visual Street Performance, but also other individual exhibits in several public and private spaces, in Portugal and abroad.
Yet, what matters most to him is to get along well with people. "It's not only about what you do as an artist, the person who's behind the work is very important", he explains, "I like to meet people with good souls, of good essence, and interact with them." With Rani, companion of countless travels, adventures and work, he founded the ARM collective, a partnership with clear aims of aesthetic and interventive pursuit, which has presented several exhibitive projects as the participation in the Crono project, where they painted the facade of a derelict building in Avenida da Liberdade, central Lisbon, in full view of the city. Art will be for everyone after all. And Mar, in line with his love for the ocean, life, his family, graffiti and art, confirms this in his day-to-day.
Words by Miguel Moore, journalist and writer