Bodies, tattoos and dreams “

The human figure is the core of Rita Martorell's work. She has always been drawn to humans and their behaviour, and this fascination is reflected in her work, which has an air of some of the creative tendencies of Central Europe, in particular from the 70s and 80s.

Since Prehistoric times and to the present day, the human body has been a relentless, almost obsessive subject for plastic arts. And today in particular it offers an ample opportunity for never-ending exploration and experimentation with two-dimensional paper or cloth, or more directly on skin and body organs, from a remote and far-removed perspective.

In Rita Martorell's bodies there is a hint of a relationship, albeit dialectical, between formal and emotional representation. The bodies are never anonymous or unknown. There are clear pointers to their identity, to the extent that they unveil unequivocal traits of their personality. They show intimate details such as scars; tattoos that mark the passage of time, sometimes revealing pain or sadness. The tattoos are like a second skin, a very thin layer that protects and envelops the individual, affording security. They give us an idea of a special, intimate experience, thus becoming elements that define an identity. Depending on the symbolic meaning that is read into them, they can become objects of desire. These drawings, painted in flat ink, are proof of an impeccable practical skill.

In this series by Martorell, the diffused photographic content is perfectly delimited by the drawing, which is the core to understanding the global concept that the artist seeks to transmit. Sometimes her lines are energetic, confident, hard, black and dark. At other times they are soft, diluted and transparent.

She applies photographs to her drawings - superimposing one over the other - but not always coinciding. This could make her work look like archaeological strata and an archaeological study could be conducted to examine the hidden depths of the human being.

Rita Martorell also presents a series of photographs of beds with pink or violet sheets from an overhead perspective.

The newly-created shapes are virtually unrelated to the linen that covers the beds. We search for an identifiable object of sorts, but all these new forms are abstract, undefined and unreal. It looks like a huge kaleidoscope or mirror trick that encompasses the whole room.

The folds of cushions and sheets, the creases, shadows and light all represent images that can be understood and presented by association in Rorschach projective tests, which specifically call on psychoanalysis.

But beyond the quest for some identifiable object - and far from the first idea that comes to mind when looking at these sensual and enjoyable photographs, of peace and tranquillity, and deep, untroubled sleep, of staying up and awake all night - we are faced with those creatures that haunt our nightmares and bring us sleepless nights, worthy of Lovecraft's fiction. Those creatures that inhabit the night, escaping from our imagination and terrifying the deepest recesses of the soul.

The new images that Martorell creates turn into visual tricks and games that mislead the observer. The ultimate impression takes several factors into account, analysing details from a general angle or depending on our mood. Martorell's works are therefore open to many varied interpretations, all of which are quite valid.

Jas Gawronski

Former Member of the European Parliament and of the Italian Senate.