Iconic faces have a way of leaving a mark on our brains, especially history’s most prolific characters: Andy Warhol, Frida Khalo, Albert Einstein and even Mickey Mouse. We’re digging the Surrealist interstellar pop art (as he calls it) by Barcelona-based painter Mario Soria – his color aesthetic, his playful take on American pop culture and his creative use of legos and other objects to add texture to the sides of his canvases.
He even paints the backs of some of his works – but rarely talks about it – adding a hidden layer that often goes unnoticed. But a cool surprise, yeah? We caught up with Mario about his process and his intellectual perspective when replicating such prolific figures, and he gave us some insight on his thought process:
Q & A
LF: Your paintings depict iconic historical characters. Tell us a little bit about your need to paint such famous faces…
MS: They all have peculiar features with some physic or intellectual attraction. That’s what caught me.
LF: What would you call your style?
MS: I’m not sure but it would be something like “Surrealism interstellar pop”… I don’t think it has a specific kind but certainly it is a well American pop, European surrealism and traditional art mixing. I like my paintings to speak for themselves; after I’m gone they will keep their own way.
LF: Why is Micky Mouse such a timeless symbol?
MS: Because once it had worn off its novelty it keeps growing in culture, turning into something classic and aesthetic. Mickey has become a generational and generalized relay.
LF: The “forgotten” pieces on the sides of the canvases, like legos, are genius and totally original. How did you come up with this idea?
MS: The canvases sides are the most forgotten. Canvas sides are part of the painting and have their own evolution. I work on canvas backside as well, mainly on small size paintings, I make time capsules, they are a kind of interpretation of real painting, I don’t show them very often, because I like the owners to enjoy it for themselves. At the beginning I only painted on canvas sides then suddenly I found myself putting all this stuff. I don’t know how this is going to finish but this way I also prevent my paintings from getting put in frames.
LF: Some of these icons are quite “American”. Do you have a fascination with American pop culture?
MS: I think American pop culture doesn’t have any complex; it’s fresh and fun.
LF: You’ve mentioned that the visual organization of your painting are meant to look like the “I Spy” books. Were those childhood staples?
MS: In fact they were cross-section books, I reviewed over and over again and reinterpreted them. A lack of toys in my childhood influenced me the most, the few ones I had I transformed to give them a second life. My paintings have two lectures: from regular distance you see a still life or a portrait, but if you get a little closer you can observe little characters telling their own story. I like when people take their time to look at my paintings.
LF: Who is a living artist that inspires you?
MS: I would say two: Antonio López and Marc Giai Miniet
LF: How fast do you live?
MS: I don’t live fast, I need some quiet time, painting can be very demanding, it claims me each second. My work process is very slow; I take so much care in details. I work seven days at week in my studio and after having dinner I paint for another three hours at home. I don’t know how my lovely wife can stand it.