1. Tell us the story of your first painting. How did you discover a love for art?
The first painting I did was in first grade with powdered paints. The teacher would add water to a colored powder in a cup and mix it with popsicle sticks. Sometimes when you were painting, your brush would pick up a lumpy clod of pigment which would smear and mess up your masterpiece. My first art gallery showing was in our kitchen on the fridge. Limited exposure meant I had to work on getting a bigger audience. Mrs. Showalter gave me the opportunity to exhibit my art, even though I had done a portrait of her in which I painted her with black hair, because I explained the darker hair made her look so much younger without her grey (even before Clairol commercials!). She let me out of class.... for a reason?
The hall bulletin board in first grade was my breakout moment. Four things benefitted me from then on through high school: I could get out of class with art projects, teacher loved the art, kids praised and envied my talents, and I got awards and recognition. I guess you could say that is when I started loving art.
2. How has your artistic style changed throughout your life?
Who has a style? When I was becoming an artist, I painted and drew for pleasing someone. I did clowns and airplanes for Dad, fashionable ladies for Mom and dogs and horses for Sis. My grandmother loved my abstracts. She always asked me to tell her about my artwork. It was a kind of way of saying... what in the world is it? Dad did not think too highly of art as a way of making a living.
Styles evolved from being in need of a sale and making a living resulted in changes. I did Impressionistic work for a while, then portraits over the mantle in Southern homes. After that, expressionist pieces morphed into 'what the heck is it?' abstracts.
3. Who is your favorite artist? Why?
My favorite artists are Norman Rockwell in private and Andrew Wyeth in public. They are equally as praised however the first always wanted to be considered a fine artist by his peers but was not. As an adult, I saw many Rockwell paintings up close at my gallery owner's home, his brushstrokes were beautifully painterly and loose. An artist, in my heart, of no peers.
However, Wyeth was the most commercially successful artist without the dreaded tag of being 'commercial'. He garnered reverence and peer praise (and the money!). He got the girl, too!
4. What does a typical day of work looks like for you?
I painted every day when I was paying for shared studio space! I competed with my fellow artists. Now I have discovered I am more successful with painting on a canvas only once. When I painted every day, I was really overpainting the same canvas. I waste less time and paint when I go into the studio with a plan or inspiration.
5. Who is your biggest inspiration? What is the best advice they gave you?
My highschool teacher, who was nationally recognized, Dean Barber, taught me the greatest lesson. Do not depend on a camera or copying. He taught me the value of seeing and remembering. He inspired sketchbooks as a way of recording and learning. 50 years now have seen some vacancies in this learning technique, but I tried.
The best thing that was ever said to me was by a forgotten friend of my grandmother's who asked what I was going to be when I grew up. As a 6 year old, I said I would be an artist. I will never forget her words: "Oh my how wonderful, you will have a life of seeing things like no one else!"
6. What is the biggest challenge of being an artist? What is the biggest reward?
It is a challenge to continue as an artist when one realizes there is so much to learn. In starting out, one's art is so precious. Artwork becomes less so when one realizes how insignificant it can be.... even after one has completed decades of work.
7. What hobbies do you have outside of art?
Gardening is arranging plants much like in composing a painting. When I am stuck in my artwork, I go outside and dig something up.
My real hobby is shopping and secondly decorating. I move furniture at 'real' friends homes. I offer my moving skills just so I can hang their paintings.
8. What are your favorite books or movies about the art world?
Leonardo da Vinci and Monet are my two favorite artists to read about.
9. What is the next painting you're planning to make?
I plan on doing a wall of small paintings that read as one big one.
10. What's one unique fact about you?
A unique belief I hold is a promise that I will be famous when I am old. Lord, dear Lord I am old!
Salvador Dali, Freddie Mercury, David Bowie and Mick Jagger are just a few of the incredible people Martin Frias had the pleasure of working with during his career. Martin Frias is a legendary photographer and artist who resides in Barcelona, where he has his studio.
In the 70's, Frias founded the Spanish rock magazine, Popular 1. Most of his photography is centered in the world of rock music. His work spans the 70’s to present day with photos of rock icons like Freddy Mercury, Robert Plant, Mick Jagger, Lou Reed, Ozzy Osborne, David Bowie, among others.
Martin Frias is a commanding presence in the Barcelona art and culture scene, where he became an insider taking amazingly crafted photos of his famous friends. In the early years, he established a friendship and professional collaboration with Salvador Dali.
As a close friend of Dali, Frias captured the artist in unique and whimsical settings. For eight years from 1994 to 2002, Martin served in the Royal Artistic Circle of Barcelona as Art Director and member of the Governing Board. Frias exhibits regularly throughout Europe with current and is a force in the European art world. He is also a masterful painter with rich, colorful oil paintings. His vibrant works encompass dance, performance and life in Spain, Cuba, Russia.
Martin Frias loves Charlotte and has visited our gallery twice from Barcelona! This week I talked to Martin Frias about his artwork, career and daily life. Check out our interview below to get to know Martin!
1. When did you first discover your love for art? What was your first painting?
I painted my first oil artwork at 12 years old. Before that, I drew everywhere, including my school and house.
2. How has your art changed throughout your life?
For my entire life, I've had an amazing tendency to plastic images. But I also study a lot of new disciplines like engineering and architecture. I love Techologym and work hard to understand other ways of communication. I am also doing programming and electronic matter combined with painture, sculpture and photographs. At 17 years old, I received my first commission for a large antic Venus. I did it in escayole and it was around 2 meters.
3. What does a typical day look like for you?
I wake up around 7am and work on two or three artworks in my studio after drinking coffee. After lunch and a small siesta, I go back to my studio. In the afternoons, I enjoy going out to walk and bicycle.
4. What is your biggest inspiration for your pieces?
I work with bodies, particularly studying movement and portraits. I also like abstraction because I use it in the backgrounds of realistic artworks.
5. What should people know about you before buying one of your pieces?
This is also a mystery for me. I paint for me and never for the market. I exhibit in Europe, Russia & USA and the buyers are so different. In the USA buyers like more realism, and in Europe they like more abstractions.
6. I bet you have some great stories about Salvador Dali. What are your favorite memories with him?
Salvador Dali takes a long time to explain. He was a really genius and I collaborated with him for four years. He appreciated my photography and commissioned me for additional artworks, specifically The Christ series. I had permission to enter in his house-studio, even if he wasn’t inside. A real privilege. He introduced me to some great great rock stars friends, like Freddie Mercury, David Bowie Lou Reed... he really liked rock. On one occasion, he introduced an Alice Cooper album.
7. Tell us the story of creating Popular 1. What are your favorite memories with the magazine?
Popular 1 is 47 years old and is the second oldest musical magazine in the world.
I released the magazine the same year of introducing Dali.
I was taking pictures of the most important music stars in Spain and the world. I used my exclusive contacts with the stars during the first 20 years. After that, I was only doing paintures and photos for my collection.
9. What are your favorite books or movies about the art world?
My favorite writers are John Irving, Paul Auster, Sandor Marai & Irene Némirovsky. The films I recommend are Heart Beat & The Sheltering Sky, The Godfather’s films, Bergman and Fellini’s films, Luchino Visconti...
10. What is next for you and your art?
I plan to continue following my art innovation works, out of commercial movements and tendencies.