On the Unity of Body and Nature
The works of the Spanish painter Marina Roca Die present images of sensual fusion. They deal with the unity of body and nature and the merging of humans in the act of love. This unity corresponds to the dissolution of the opposition between figuration and abstraction: These paintings are both figurative and abstract at the same time.
The trees and flowers here take on human forms and behaviors, and humans transform into flowers and trees. Just as the landscape is seen as a living organism, the human body is a landscape: with hills, valleys, and plains, with expanses and densities. In these paintings, it is always summer, with flowers and blooming: Is it Love, or is it Summer? asks a picture title – well, the artist was in love when she painted this flower picture, and she tends to the body of her beloved as she tends her garden. “Gardening of body parts,” she calls it. Marina’s father is a landscape painter, and so the two of them often strolled around the enchanting landscapes of the Mediterranean. The father always had paper and watercolors with him, just for her. They spent a lot of time on the island of Menorca, whose beauty is praised in her work Sacred Secret: She is very keen that the island should be spared from tourism and preserved in its originality – its beauty should remain a secret.
The Human Body
Apart from these vedute, it is the human body, in particular the female one, that stands at the center of this work – even if the figure is not always recognizable. Marina Roca Die grew up in Madrid, where she explored the great works of Spanish art at the Prado or other high-profile collections. One central point of interest has been Goya with his mythical creatures and witches, and the cruel dismemberments of the body; another is the magician Picasso with his brilliant colors and, again, deformations of the human body, if in a more theoretical way.
The masters of gestural figuration expand the circle of models and inspirers: Egon Schiele, Francis Bacon, Georg Baselitz, Lucian Freud – they all deal with the morphing and dissection of the body. Fittingly, the artist speaks of “my obsession with the deformation of the human figure”, and she says: “I think that art should assert the primitive nature of human being”, referring not least to sexuality.
Witches play a special role in Marina Roca’s art. These creatures had a great deal of knowledge about nature, trees, and plants. And they stand for the instinctive, the animalistic, and the peculiar, in other words: a lot of the things that are of interest to Marina. “It was joyful to be a witch,” she says; she wants to rehabilitate these somewhat infamous beings – also in the context of feminism – and wrest the subject matter from oblivion. This peculiar world culminates in the Witches’ Sabbath, to which Marina dedicated her Aquelarres series with the witches whizzing happily through the air. For these works, she first formed small figures out of clay, then photographed them and used the photos as a template for her paintings. They are the only figures that she represents in a naturalistic way. However, they have goat heads, which is a small side blow against Goya, who did not like the witches, they were too irrational for him. In his Witches’ Sabbaths, he has them, according to tradition, led by a billy goat, the devil. In Marina’s paintings, the witches do not need such guidance, they are the male goat themselves.
Theoretical points of reference for this work are the feminist considerations of Judith Butler, Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis, and in particular the theories of psychiatrist Jacques Lacan: “I find it extremely pleasurable to analyze his work and I find a lot of inspiration from it that I can apply to myself and to my artwork.” She refers to Lacan’s reflections on the body, sexuality, and the other. Human desire is always the desire of the other, says Lacan, who owned Gustave Courbet’s once scandalous painting The Origin of the World, the image of a female nude with her lap wide open. But as important as these theoretical-philosophical references are: “The pleasure I feel by mixing oil colors is something I couldn’t find in any other field of study.” In addition to all narrative and theoretical content, it is above all painting itself that plays an outstanding role in this work. The colors are earthy-sensual, dark, and mysterious, then again bright and blooming. The brush stroke is tentative and fleeting, then violently moving and expressive, but always lively and very to the point. The style and the application of paint resemble the human body: soft and yielding as well as strong and hard. Similar to the paintings of Willem de Kooning, the oil paint immediately transforms into human skin. The brushstrokes not only document the dissolution of the body, they are the body.
By Ernst Busche, art critic, curator, and founder of Busche Kunst Gallery, Berlin.
Marina Roca Die, born in 1988 in Madrid, is a visual artist primarily working with painting and drawing. Marina currently lives and works in Madrid and Berlin.
Be it through thick strokes of oil paint, heavily fixating the figure of a body onto the canvas, or flimsy pen-drawn contours of an intercourse, what is essential in Marina’s work is the ongoing exploration and examination of this thing we all so simply call a body.
A body, the body, our bodies – a phenomenon so fundamental and basic in our lives and still, in the flesh, so imperceptible. We live through it, in it, with it and sometimes against it. We cannot live without it. It is a perpetual paradox: I am not my body and yet I do not exist without it. It is a vessel containing all that is I, but still ceaselessly this I overflows its enclosing borders.
Through representations employed from diverse branches as for example Philosophy, Psychoanalysis, and Feminism, Marina digs deep into the perplexed territory of the body, its inside, its outside, its shapes, textures, and content using it in search of the strong image.
In the end, what all these images and representations capture is the fact that a body is never just a body.
CV – Marina Roca Die
Born in Madrid, 1988
Lives and works in Madrid.
- The End is Always Near (upcoming solo show) – El Chico Gallery, Madrid.
- Aquelarre (solo show) – El Chico Gallery, Madrid.
- Somos Bosque (solo show) – Espacio Cuttoo, Madrid.
- Landscape, so Beautiful! – Busche Kunst Gallery, Berlin.
- Surreal and Phantastic Worlds – Busche Kunst Gallery, Berlin.
- Abstractions: Painterly, Diverse – Busche Kunst Gallery, Berlin.
- Abstractions: The Grand Gesture – Busche Kunst Gallery, Berlin.
- Figures and Faces – Busche Kunst Gallery, Berlin.
- BBA 2020 – BBA Gallery, Berlin.
- Not Bodies (solo show) – Excavo Fine Arts Gallery, London, Canada.
- Nasty Women Art Exhibition – De Balie Cultural Center, Amsterdam.
- Premio BMW de Pintura – Casa de Vacas del Retiro, Madrid.
- Exchange Berlin Biennale (by Sluice) – Kühlhaus, Berlin.
- The Body is in the Eye – BBA Gallery, Berlin.
- Fieber Festival – Meinblau Galerie, Berlin.
- Femfest, by Sweet Art – Ugly Duck Gallery, London.
- Air Open – Air Gallery, Altrincham, Manchester.
- Nasty Women Art Exhibition – Josilda da Conceição Gallery, Amsterdam.
- The Early Days – Kreuzberg Pavillon, Berlin.
- C.A.R. Contemporary Art Ruhr – Contemporary Art Fair, Essen.
- Body Talks – Gallery Nomad, Berlin.
- XXS – BBA Gallery, Berlin.
- Too Animal, Too Human (solo show) – Gallery Nomad, Berlin.
- Emerging Artists Vol. 2 – BBA Gallery, Berlin.
- Mujeres en la Prehistoria: el Origen de la Humanidad – Instituto de la Mujer, Madrid. view here.
- Square Project, by Balloon Project – Italy.
- TELEPHONE, A Global Conversation, by Satellite Collective – Global. view here.
- Friend of the Artist Magazine (FOA), volume 7 – USA. view here.
- Not Bodies. Marina Roca Die – Berlin and Barcelona. view here.
- Lettre International Magazine, issue 118 – Berlin, Germany. view here.
- 365 Artists 365 Days, by Frank Juarez Gallery – USA. view here.
- TELEPHONE, by Satellite Collective – USA. view here.
- Sand Journal, issue 9 – Berlin, Germany. view here.
2008 – 2012
- Painting, Drawing and Anatomy – Estudio Arjona, Madrid.
- Course on Anatomy of Human Body – Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London.
- Chinese Painting – Master Li Chi Pang, Madrid.
2008 – 2010
- Life Drawing Sessions – Círculo de Bellas Artes, Madrid.
- Merit Scholarship – Estudio Arjona, Madrid.
- Course “Ceguera Contemporánea vs. Pintura”, José Manuel Ciria – Círculo de Bellas Artes, Madrid.
2006 – 2009
- Cycle of Applied Arts of Sculpture of Higher Degree of Plastic Arts and Design – School of Art La Palma, Madrid.