Monica Aissa Martinez’s large, richly detailed, and colorful paintings begin with the anatomical structure of the human body, but manage to fold in the artist’s love of the maps collected by her grandfather, her own study of yoga, and a holistic approach to mind, body, and spirit that incorporates both the cosmic and the microcellular.
The mixed-media works are created in a lengthy process that can take a year or more to complete. Each work begins with an anatomical drawing, upon which Martinez begins layering additional elements. With each layer, the character of the work changes. At one level, there are rich organic forms representing organs; at another, lines suggesting the circulation of blood. Next, the work is colonized by colorful shapes evoking cells, and striations that combine the literal physicality of muscle tissue with a powerful sense of movement between the forms. Viewed up close, the works are abstractions of vibrant color and shape. But pull back, and they become elegant illustrations of Martinez’s holistic interpretation of the world and her place in it.