Dover’s 'Devil came to me', a quintessential album for an entire generation, turns 25, and we’re celebrating by chatting to some of its makers and analysing its impact.
The art of perseverance
Marina Núñez traded her paintbrushes for a mouse, and oil painting for software. Perseverance has always been her greatest ally, and she demonstrates while she retouches some of the hundreds of stills per minute that make up her videos. An attitude towards art that she tries to instil in her students, who, ironically, prefer more traditional techniques to the detriment of digital methods. Her work can be seen at the current ARCO edition.
The works of Marina Núñez (Palencia, 1966), which can be seen until the 9th of April at La Gran Gallery and at ARCO (from the 24th until the 27th of February), leave no one unmoved and, after sharing her own conception of art, we understand why. “Art is a comprehensive experience that appeals to your intelligence, but also to your senses, your passions, your emotions, your body... I’m interested in that experience being a shock, and for it to solve conundrums, but, above all, for it to create new conundrums and to place you in front of an abyss.”
And that’s how the audience feels when it comes face to face with a creation by this artist from Palencia. An audience that interprets the work and may even grant it new meaning or, at least, as Marina herself admits, offer a completely different view. “Each person sees different things. I’ve often been more interested in the audience’s take than in the story I’d made up in my head.”
“All art is political, and I think there are no innocent images, they’re all steeped in ideology, even the most harmless looking”
Women have always been a part of Marina’s imagination and, although she concedes that her images aren’t explicitly political, she’s aware that all art forms are: “There are no innocent images, they’re all steeped in ideology, even the most harmless looking. It’s not a case of the artist deciding to be political or not; there are no images that aren’t politically charged.”
The beings that inhabit Marina’s works, far from the canon or right on the edge, may look like monsters at first sight, but after looking at them closely, they end up transforming into pure humanity, into imperfect perfection. “The representation of monstrosity in art is connected to questioning beauty as a fundamentalist concept that excludes so many people. It’s slightly subversive, demanding a system without such a narrow canon.”
The story of digital art
Marina is enthusiastic about literature, especially science fiction, and confesses that she’s been attracted to film special effects since she was a child, something that has influenced her work and that is part of the seed that led to her taking the leap from painting to digital art. “It wasn’t at all planned. I’m a storyteller and I thought that I told better stories within a sequence, even if it lasted less than a minute, than with a single still.” Although she decided to set aside her paintbrushes, the artist holds nothing against more traditional techniques. “A hand-drawn sketch with pencil and paper will always be just as relevant as the latest technology.”
Technology is part of the artist’s day-to-day life; she works with software to create her works at her home studio in Madrid. “I love the possibilities it offers; I admit that I sometimes despair because some programmes are less user-friendly than others, but I end up figuring it out.” Ironically, Marina doesn’t perceive this passion among her students —she teaches at the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Vigo—. “Among my students, who are meant to be digital natives, I see zero interest in anything that resembles a computer. They are a bit allergic to it, everyone wants to do analogue things.” This attitude leads Marina to believe that, although digital technologies are here to stay also within the world of art, their trajectory may not necessarily follow a growing trend.
“Among my students, who are meant to be digital natives, I see zero interest in anything that resembles a computer”
Digital art is in its infancy and perhaps this is why, not only students, but even some art lovers, may not be aware of all its possibilities yet. “People don’t know that they can also have the video at home like a painting. You simply have a monitor and can add a frame... The ways we can exhibit digital art are endless.” Even Marina has a framed display in her studio, which she shows off proudly, that reveals the works she’s passionate about, both her own and those belonging to other artists.
Learning to make art
“I’ve never believed in innate talents, or muses, or anything like that, no magic, and I’ve spoken to my students about this.” If this weren’t the case, Marina asserts that being a teacher would be terrible, and she shares her modus operandi. “You can teach people how to make art. I don’t think in terms of who has talent, I think in terms of helping each person discover what they want to do, which is perhaps the hardest part, and from that point on, to forge ahead and make it a reality.”
“I’ve never believed in innate talents, or muses, or anything like that, no magic, and I’ve spoken to my students about this”
Marina speaks from experience; she taught herself how to make digital art. “When I was a student, there were no courses related to technology, so I’ve taught myself everything.” Perseverance, together with a passion for art, is what makes a difference in this world beyond talent. “It’s not an easy industry, you either have strong willpower or you get left behind. I’d say that above talent is a real hunger for staying there, and perhaps it doesn’t work out and you have no visibility for a year, or two, or three, or ten, or fifteen.”
Marina also highlights that role models are also fundamental, and recalls some of her own. “When I was studying, for me it was very important to surround myself with strong female characters, to understand that I could also be there, like Eva Lootz, Concha Jerez, o Paloma Navares.” Today, Marina Núñez herself could be an example for hundreds of students who dream of devoting their lives to Fine Arts. Listen to her, perseverance.