Martorell: An artist for all seasons


Jorge Rodríguez reports on recent and forthcoming work by Puerto Rican artist Antonio Martorell, whose creative energy is constant and, essentially, indefatigable. See the original article (in Spanish) at El Vocero:

Maestro Antonio Martorell admits that he has spent many stormy months, not only because of the hurricanes, but because, a year ago, he agreed to an exhibition at Linfield College in Oregon and accepted to exhibit and deliver lectures and workshops in San Antonio, Texas—invited by the Puerto Rican Heritage Society and documented by PBS in a recent documentary.

At Linfield College, he installed a barrier of umbrellas opening in the direction of the United States with the three colors of his flag and with the tips pointing towards the South with the colors of the Aztec flag; the piece was entitled “Rain.” Meanwhile, in San Antonio, he established a conversation between the posters of the Community Education Division [División de Educación a la Comunidad] and Puerto Rico’s Taller Alacrán.

“I had the great opportunity to make a ‘facetext’ drawing that I inaugurated in Oregon, portraits that accompany and defend texts that have been watered down by history and that are the root of a lack of respect for founding texts (of various countries), such as the Declaration of Human Rights, the poem that is on the plaque of the Statue of Liberty [The New Colossus], or ‘La Borinqueña.’ Texts that were once sacred and that, unfortunately, have been trampled on by successive rulers, including # 45 (as they refer to the president of the United States in Oregon),” he stated.

Although the passionate works of brief form and the public art of Martorell tend to both bifurcate and interweave, to the point that, if they had not been postponed by the recent catastrophe, they would have all converged in their openings. Here we have his tenth plate—“Los Reyes Magos”—which he presented at the Norberto González Bookstore in Plaza de las Américas, as well as the publication of his second autobiography, Pierdencuentra, and the film by Paloma Suau, El accidente feliz [The Happy Accident], based on a free and dauntless vision of his work.

“Everything is always to be done for the restless spirit! The plate with the three Puerto Rican patriots can be hung in the way that was created, where the three faces may be changed each season. In a way, these dishes were marked with such a noble purpose of helping with gifts with parties for boys and girls; but this year in particular, [they were made] for hurricane relief for the victims in Vieques. It has that double purpose, despite the fact that our beloved patriots have sacrificed their lives for their freedom. They do not need a crown because they already have it,” said Martorell.

This handmade piece is made with drawings and designs in the Ponce workshop by the artist, with the help of Milton Ramírez Malavé, his main computer graphics assistant; then the photographed piece is given to Ramón Figueroa and Imgard Iglesias (organizers of the Vieques Festival) who then send it out for production. The figures of this festival are Pedro Albizu Campos, Filiberto Ojeda, and Oscar López.

Pierdencuentra, however, is about the things that one loses and those that one finds, without knowing which is which one,” he points out. He also has another long-dormant book, which was about to be published, Las voces del jardín [The Voices of the Garden]—with master photographer Jochi Melero—on the botanical-cultural garden of Caguas. It is a book of photographs, with short texts accompanying his graphic work. Suau, meanwhile, is about to release the fourth trailer of El accidente feliz; she offers work seen through her very personal lens, through more than 20 years of friendship and collaboration.

Martorell says, “I have several commissioned portraits; the inauguration of the Hard Rock Café for which I created a mural; the opening of the Ramón Figueroa Chapel Theater in [the University of Puerto Rico in] Mayaguez for which I illustrated all the walls. It was finished and then it was postponed. The student strikes started, the hurricane, and now, I do not know what else is going to come. I also made some stained glass windows for the walkway of the public park of the Banco Popular de Puerto Rico, which goes from the Muñoz Rivera Avenue in Hato Rey to the Colosseum. They are mounting them, but I do not know that opening date either. These stained glass windows serve as covering along some walkways that go from the bridge that the bank built over the avenue, which I made in collaboration with architect Segundo Cardona. It is a very beautiful project that I painted here; the stained glass windows were made in Colombia, where I went to supervise them.”

[Translated from the Spanish by Ivette Romero.] For original article, see

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