Self-taught, Dominican born and Harlem, NY resident, Artexpo Award winner Sócrates Márquez brings his works to life by exploring with acrylics, oils and household items. The backbone of his work is movement. Known for his signature paint-splatter technique and his dynamic style or “cohesive intentional chaos”, as he calls it, which is far from being a random effort but the artist’s conscious decision, he produces pieces of art that are vibrant and stimulating, inviting the viewers to a journey of discovery and self-interpretations. At trade shows his charisma and energy draw crowds to his booth to meet him, to see his artwork and to learn about his creative process. “The combination of [his] work, [his] booth design and [his] presence…is MAGIC” – says Rick Barnett, Artexpo Business Development Director.
In 2014, Sócrates was named among the top 50 Emerging Artists of the year by Art Business News, the art industry news leader since 1977. “Sócrates’ works do not feel like abstracts painted on a flat surface but instead, as beckoning environments one wants to step into” – says Stacey Ann Ellis, Executive Producer, The Blackwash Televised Art Gallery.
During Artexpo New York 2016, Sócrates performed a live demonstration and was part of a panel of artists within the Topics and Trends Educational Series. Recently, Sócrates Márquez spoke to the Examiner about his experiences working as an artist and his hopes for the future:
Meagan Meehan (M.M.): How and when did you decide to become an artist?
Socrates Marquez (S.M.): Becoming an artist was merely an accident for me. I am self-taught. In 2008 I had just moved into a new apartment in the Pelham Parkway area of the Bronx. For weeks I couldn’t commit to a wall color and found myself painting and changing the colors on the walls every weekend. At some point I would even wake up in the middle of the night and would start painting the walls, until one day when I said to myself that I should stop and get small canvases and try the colors on the canvases instead of spending so much time and effort repainting the walls over and over. The anxiety of the new place coupled with the accumulated stress from working as Director of Finance for a Global Beauty corporation seemed to cease as soon as I started my canvas experiments. I found painting relaxing and for some reason, while I had no formal art foundation or education, color selection and intuitive experimentation came natural for me. A friend who was professionally trained came to visit and saw all the paintings I had finished and the one I was in the middle of upon his arrival and was shocked at the agility and my interaction with colors and the canvas. He encouraged me to continue to do it and said that I should pursue it further because there was some natural talent within me. At the time, I just thought he was pulling a prank on me. I kept going not so much with the intention of becoming an artist but because of how relaxed and comfortable I was with the process. I started experimenting with texture and went to the kitchen to see what was in my cabinets that I could add to create texture on the painting. I tried sugar but sugar wasn’t for me. I tried wheat flour, and while I liked the “cracking” effect of the wheat flour after drying, I still wasn’t content. I tried corn meal, and to my surprise, corn meal created the effect and texture I was looking for.
M.M.: Growing up, which artists/types of art interested you?
S.M.: Growing up in the Dominican Republic in the 80’s and 90’s there was not much exposure to art. So I was only familiar with the most common well known traditional artists such as Picasso, Van Goh, Monet, etc. My favorite was always Van Goh. For me there was some fascinating hidden energy in the way he traced his paintings.
M.M.: How would you describe your work and what inspires it?
S.M.: While I have experimented with different styles, the one I have found myself more identified with is the Abstract Expressionism. My work is about movement, energy and discovery. It is fascinating when viewers see my work for the first time and they say that they were just pulled into it and as they get closer, they feel happy. It is a great compliment when my collectors send me notes saying how after a long hard day they come home and when they sit to admire one of my paintings they feel better, content–happy, if you will. In short, I describe my art as “cohesive intentional chaos.” While at first glance it may seem chaotic, after further scrutiny there is some balance and control within the picture plane.
M.M.: How did you go about getting into galleries and/or public showcases?
S.M.: It took some courage since I was concerned about how people was going to react to my work or even asked myself whether they would like it or not – I first started with small shows in NYC, and during one of those small shows I met Dorothy Krakauer, and artist and curator. She saw my potential and encouraged me to continue to master my craft and to also bring it to a larger audience. This is when then in 2012 we decided to join Artexpo New York–my first participation on a show of this magnitude. I came in as the underdog and had a small booth with a variety of small paintings. The following year, I came back to Artexpo New York with my series “Swept Away”, a string mop inspired series that landed me among the Solo Award winners of Artexpo 2013.
M.M.: What are your mediums of choice?
S.M.: I tend to mix it up – I like to combine different mediums within the same paintings. I use varnish, Gels, acrylics, latex, enamel, oil stick, spray paint, etc all combined. My favorite ingredient thus far is corn meal
M.M.: How did you develop your unique style?
S.M.: Through practice, discipline and patience, but overall by keeping my level of curiosity and not being afraid to try new things.
M.M.: To date, what has been the most rewarding experience involving your artwork and/or being an artist?
S.M.: As an artist, it is great when your work gets validated via an award or some type of recognition. This is important for the confidence of the artist, but personally. As an artist the most rewarding experience is in general when through my art I have the opportunity of working with local organizations and I become part of something bigger than me. For instance, this year, with the support of the Artexpo leadership team, I had the opportunity of welcoming to the event residents and staff members of Barrier Free Living, an organization that works with victims of domestic violence and provide shelter for individuals with disabilities. Just being the
“ambassador” for those who are less privileged and that have been or currently are going through traumatic situations is truly rewarding.
M.M.: What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to become an artist?
S.M.: Very simple, regardless your age, NEVER lose your child-like sense of wonder. Keep trying new things, keep experimenting, and keep creating.
M.M.: Are there any upcoming projects and/or events that you would like to mention?
S.M.: As we wrap up Artexpo New York, there are fantastic opportunities that I am now presented with. It’s too early to publish them, but stay tuned, there is much more to come soon!
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To learn more about Socrates Marquez, visit his official website.He can also be followed on social media via @socratesmarquez