Art, // September 26, 2020

Mariana Montes — ARTIST

Mariana Montes
Photograph by CJ3

Interview with Mariana Montes —


1. Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Mariana Montes. I am originally a medical doctor and a psychiatrist from Uruguay. I am also an artist, a painter. I’ve lived in California for the past 15 years. Art is an important choice in my life, painting is a necessary form of expression.




2. Why art?
I need to express something from within that goes in a different category than words. I’ve always been surrounded by art, growing up as a child of an artist. I painted since a young girl. I drew everything that meant something to me. The first memory is drawing the horses that I loved so much. I made innumerable amounts of them when I was away from them. It was a way to be close. Today I may have changed the theme but the meaning and the urge is the same. I had my first lessons with my father, the artist and Professor Pepe Montes.


“Spiral of life”


3. What is your earliest memory of wanting to be an artist?
Painting with oil paint in my father’s atelier when I was a child. And then in my teenage years I became more aware that it was something I had to do as I began to understand more art from the adult perspective. And I just had this knowledge that I couldn’t see my life without being an artist. Even when took different a different path for a while, when attending medical school. In my heart I always knew that both would be eventually my way o life.




4. What are your favorite subject(s) and media(s)?
Oil paint is my favorite. And use plaster for texture and to produce changes in my piece as it develops.


“Dulcinea III”


5. How do you work and approach your subject?
Being a psychiatric working with the human mind, there’s a natural search for the symbolic on the expressions and the understanding of the themes that occur in my artwork. The symbolic expression in my art brings me to a deeper level where the psychoanalytical background, with a validation for the unconscious takes a special place to me that translates and takes a stand in my work.

When it comes to story, or the anecdote, I don’t specifically look for a theme, at least on a conscious level. I make some suggestions to the already funded structure and then will work around the elements on the canvas. These elements will be suggested as a vague idea initially, to get to a final, unified set of straight lines, obliques, curves, that will play together on what is going to be the final result. The whole process will run on a fine line between following the rules and breaking them. An individual unique way to do this, will define one’s identity as an artist. My subjects come from experiences, hidden memories that will come to life while drawing and placing colors with their different levels of light. I will find symbols, graphic symbols that represent something in my life that I want or need to tell.




Different aspects that seem relevant, come sometimes from memories of a childhood in the country. Other times other forms and concepts make their entrance from more complex parts of myself. Sometimes from the medical knowledge ingrained in my mind, as anatomical, histological, almost as radiological images. And the human figure, in general. These representations will make their appearance on the painting, as symbols coming from the scientific background, not as accurate objective facts.




6. What are your favorite art work(s), artist(s)?
My favorite artists are Pablo Picasso, one of my favorites is the crying woman, another the woman on the mirror. Marc Chagall, a lot of his paintings are so lively, beautiful and dreamy, I can look at them for hours. Paul Klee,  another of my most important and significant painters. Significant because it always stays with me what he does with his sensitivity. In fact with Chagall and Klee I feel like I travel around humanly recognizable territories. Not that I compare myself with them, but I feel some their same feelings, or I can understand. However, Picasso is a whole different game, as much as I admire him. He is on a league of his own, with the gods of art somewhere preparing art potions. And then an all times love of mine is Paul Gauguin, and on a different note, Amedeo Modigliani.


“In circle”


7. What are the best responses you have had to your work?
I participated on a contest several years ago. The jury pick up all the pieces i presented for a bienal from the gallery I was involved with, Latino ARt Museum.  And later, I  received the first prize of this bienal/competition. Quite a number of people approached me to talk to me about my work. I remember a younger student that came to me to tell me “your art is inspirational.” And, going back to my practice of naturalism, when my father’s master, looking at a bouquet I just painted told me very good things about my possibilities as an artist. In fact, he said he disagreed with me going to medical school.




8. What do you like about your work?
I feel quite happy when I am organizing my first steps. But the biggest joy comes when something new and unexpected appears and I feel that is fresh, and it’s new and it has sort of, a life of its own. Makes me happy when I see that some magic has appeared.


9. What advice would you give to other artists?
Work hard. Get to know your skills, develop them, get great at them. Practice often. And get  to know yourself, as an artist, and as a person.


“Autum Tree 2018”


10. Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
In a peaceful place geographically and personally. Where I have found more about the artist in me and I had been able to do that journey of self exploration and self discovery of my art. And of course, with some recognition if possible.



Mariana Montes