Film on Artist Antonio Martorell: “El accidente feliz”

accidente

I can’t wait to see this documentary film: El accidente feliz [The Happy Accident]. Directed by Paloma Suau, it follows Puerto Rican visual artist Antonio Martorell through five years of his ever-creative daily existence. In a review of the film, 90grados writes that El accidente feliz presents the artist’s life from the standpoint of “the creative crisis suffered by its director, Paloma Suau.”

In this documentary the artists exclaims, “I live from crisis to crisis because, if I have to deal with a crisis, the good thing is that it erases all the others. I have also experienced the collective tragedy of being Puerto Rican and, at times, of making a comedy out of a tragedy or an attempt at heroism when facing others—but always a captivating melodrama.” The documentary is now being screened in Puerto Rico at the Fine Arts Theater-Caribbean Cinemas. See teaser here or, with additional information, at accidentefeliz.com. Here is my translation of the review.

Paloma has known Antonio since she was a child, since he was part of the group of close friends of her parents, actress Camille Carrión and producer Gabriel Suau.

With a dynamic and rapid editing style, Suau intertwines her non-linear script with scenes of the artist in his studio with his students, at home, in gatherings, and at the opening of one of his exhibitions, tying all this in with interviews of the people closest to him, including the director herself. In its entirety, the documentary is a personal questioning by the filmmaker who finds answers through the lessons of a subject who becomes her teacher. Thus, we delve into the psyche of one of the most renowned figures of Puerto Rican art.

Martorell is a character in search of its author. His eclectic way of dressing, his rampant optimism, and his jocularity when expressing himself, make this film project a substantial one. From the outset, one perceives that Martorell has been notable for his discipline, echoing the words of Picasso: “May the muses find you working.” His children speak about how complicated and inspiring it is to have a workaholic father.

Other important creative figures in the country, like Luis Rafael Sánchez, confess the impact that Martorell has had on their lives, while the artist just smiles and lowers his head as he listens. We learn that discipline comes with touches of humility.

Through statements by Rosa Luisa Márquez, theatrical director and his friend, we experience the most transcendental parts of the documentary, such as the raid that the FBI did to the artist’s home, where Martorell confesses that they found nothing because he did not hide anything. Tragedy strikes the artist when a fire set by thieves destroyed his home along with a large number of his works. Interviewees related that they were devastated when they went to help Antonio to clean up the rubble. On the contrary, he was delighted with the situation because he began to see his burned works with a new perspective and everything seemed beautiful to him. This way of seeing things—with passion, optimism and joy—is what made Paloma come out of her creative block. Teacher and student both learn that there are no obstacles, but rather opportunities turned into happy accidents.

[Translated by Ivette Romero. For full review (in Spanish), see http://90grados.com/arte/paloma-suau-retrata-al-artista-antonio-martorell-en-su-documental-el-accidente-feliz/

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