Móyòsóré Martins | The Artist Journey

On view now at Crossing Art

Written by

McKenna Matus

Photographed by

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All Images Courtesy The Artist

Fueled by curiosity and spirituality, self taught multimedia artist Móyòsoré Martins invites us into his interpersonal world at his new solo exhibition, Móyòsóré Martins: The Artist Journey. Martins’ juxtaposed bright and somber color pallets are brought to life in his signature style of raw and layered impasto. Oils, acrylics, graphite, and collage are used to detail his distinctive iconography, and they are woven together with scratched and distressed written messages to form the ultimate narrative of his unique life experiences. Raised in Lagos, Martins’ traditional Yoruba cultural roots are effortlessly amalgamated with his contemporary vision. He also creates sculptures using mixed media and found objects. Martins’ collective work is detailed, layered, thought provoking, emotive, and visually striking. The Artist Journey is on view now at Crossing Art in New York City through July 15th. 

FLAUNT spoke with Martins on the eve of his new exhibition. 

How do you feel your global upbringing and experience impacts your work? 

It gives me a multifaceted view of life, objects, my use of materials, and colors in my art. And my association with consciousness—my state of awareness, my thoughts, and my experiences. It encompasses everything I create.

This view is what shapes my overall perception of how I create and how I live my life, personally and professionally.  

Being raised in Lagos, Nigerian by a dad of Brazilian descent and my mom West African from a tribe called Yoruba, and having family and friends in different parts of the world will always be part of my imprinting and my culture will always be present, and evident in my work and life.

What is your creative process and how do you approach the canvas? 

My creative process starts with deep solitude, dreams, premonitions, manifestations, wants, desires, visions, and obsessions.  I approach the canvas with a childlike approach, stripping down all complexity of an adult, I try to completely kill the ego control, and embrace vulnerability.

How did you make the leap from studying computer science in West Africa to a visual artist in New York? 

It's not a leap, it's a calling.  I was not allowed to study art. My dad wanted me to be an architect and something he considered professional. But I have always been an artist and have been creating my entire life.  I am self-taught and focused solely on art when I moved to America where I came to find myself both professionally and personally. 

What draws you to iconography and symbolism? 

The symbols and iconography are a way of storytelling where you can say a lot with very little.  Less is more, and this is how I approach everything in life.

In Africa, it's all about symbols as a language. We don't have to rely solely on spoken words. We use sounds, our eyes, gestures, and sometimes even our minds to communicate. It's hard to put into words, but there's a certain energy and vibration you can feel. One symbol that you’ll see a lot in my paintings is the question "Why?" I'm a naturally curious person, always asking questions. I believe there's so much more to life than what meets the eye or what we hear. Symbols help us interpret what we see, and everyone has their own unique perspective. When you look at my pieces, you might see something completely different from what I see, but that's okay. It doesn't make you feel disconnected from the culture because they all carry a sense of belonging and nostalgia. Even if you've never been to Africa or experienced my life, you'll still feel a connection. I just want people to see the truth, to sense and experience it through my journey. It's really as simple as that.

What symbols do you associate with New York? 

A ladder, a cat, and pigeons. The ladder, because you can't escape the process here and you can't fake it. The cat because New York will break you. You need to have nine lives to survive in New York. Everyone in New York has had an afterlife or history or experience before they came here and this place breaks you if you haven't had that kind of experience this place can break you more than nine times. The pigeon, because you need to be a freethinker to survive in New York because it's so easy to get sucked in and lose yourself in the matrix because it's a ghost city. If you don't think like a bird and think freely, you get sucked into the system.

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Crossing Art, Móyòsoré Martins