b. 1963, Barcelona

                                     Lives and works in Sydney

DANI MARTI was born 1963 Barcelona, Spain. Lives and works Sydney, Australia and Glasgow, Scotland. Marti works across video, installation and public art. His unorthodox woven and filmic works turns to wider notions of portraiture and sexuality in Modernism, Minimalism, and geometric abstraction.

Oscillating between hopefulness and failure, Dani Marti’s work is hinged to a representational paradox. For on the one hand it presupposes belief in the act of portrayal, and on the other hand it tacitly admits portraiture’s inevitable failure to accurately capture. His relation to his subject is consistently fixed: an obsessive, laborious, and often desire-driven attempt to represent something of his subject that is beyond appearances. Something of a deep-rooted lust between him and his subject, something of an essence, something, in other words, beyond surface. But it is surface—quite literally—that we as viewers are left with in Marti’s work, nothing objectively closer to ‘the real’ other than what one chooses to see and read into it. Marti’s work is thus an explicit reminder that viewer subjectivity is the only place where the portrait can truly be generated. His gestures toward it are merely our starting points.

“For Marti, both weaving and (video) taping, represent an act of bondage, a ritual which enables the artist to ‘possess’ the person that is portrayed. Aesthetics, pleasure, fantasy and security come into play reminding us of Foucault’s ideas about violence as an exercise of power that negatively affects freedom, and through which the dignity of the other is perceived under a new light. It’s a question of faith, of mutual consensus, but also and most importantly about portraiture as an impossible act.”

(Paco Barragan)


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BLACK SUN                                                        2016


SLOW SHOW                                                     2015


ADELAIDE BIENNIAL                                            2014


THAT'S IT                                                            2011







FAC hosted Dani Marti’s first WA solo show as part of the 2016 Perth International Arts Festival. Including a generous offering of new and never before shown hand-woven canvases, audio and video works, Black Sun is both seductive and confronting. Marti uniquely combines video and textiles to create portraits which reflect upon encounters with family, lovers and strangers. His works are intense in their scrutiny, alive in their passion and ask poignant questions about sexuality, intimacy, the efficacy of relationships, encounters and the need to share in others’ stories.




In the artist’s second solo exhibition with the gallery Marti will exhibit new sculptural wall pieces. The artist’s previous solo exhibition, RUN, RUN, RUN, was infused with high hues of colour, and sexuality by contrast Slow Show is presented to us in shades of black. The artist has had a long fascination with black - embedded in his Spanish heritage. Most recently, ‘Armour’ was his proposal for ‘Dark Heart’ at the Adelaide Biennial 2014, as a response to Goya’s black paintings. Marti states “ Black slows me down with each step I take towards it”.





Dani Marti’s Armour is a series of suspended sculptures woven in synthetic rope, leather and industrial rubber. The artist’s viewing of Samurai armour at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York provoked the creation of this series. Marti, who trained in Catalan tapestry techniques, has employed the same knot used in the body-wrapping forms of a Samurai’s garments to create his own shadow warriors.

A selection of etchings from Goya’s Los Caprichos, drawn from the Gallery’s collection, were included in Marti’s Adelaide Biennial installation, staging a conversation between two artists of Spanish descent across more than 200 years of human history.




Ovid tells us that Arachne was a woman from humble origins. her distinction lay in her skill as a weaver: nymphs were drawn from throughout the island of Lydia to see her work; even Athena, the goddess of crafts, was moved. Admirers sometimes suggested that Athena had been her teacher, but Arachne denied it, claiming she could prove her supremacy if only the goddess would compete. And so the two came head to head. Athena wove scenes showing the fates of mortals who had challenged the gods: transfigured into mountains, birds. Arachne answered with scenes denouncing the sex crimes committed by the gods when they took on the forms of bulls, swans, satyrs. When Athena saw the splendour of her rival’s work, she shredded it, beat her with a spindle, and turned her into a spider. and so Arachne’s descendants weave on to this day.

Artists, traditionally melancholics, are sometimes said to be born under the sign of Saturn, but it is easier to appreciate Dani Marti under the patronage of Arachne. For if he is to have a patron, it must be one that comprehends what seems to be the very stark division between his work as a painter/weaver, and a film-maker whose subjects probe the sexual lives of others. This book treats those practices separately, though the puzzle of their connection remains. Colin Perry resolves it by identifying what we could call a complementarity of pain and desire: “The videos are cathartic” he says, “the paintings are sublimatory.” The fact that the paintings sublimate feeling should remind us how indebted they are to Modernist abstraction and Minimalist sculpture – though they offer an eccentric and expressive version of that tradition. They are tributes and fetishes whose reek of bodily yearning puts them at a far distance from the kinds of Modernist objects we usually contemplate with aesthetic disinterest. The Pleasure Chest (2007) tangles necklaces and Rosary beads into a design with the all-over infinitude of a Jackson Pollock and the rich materiality of a Piero Manzoni. Meanwhile, as a filmmaker, Marti delivers catharsis by drawing us into his subjects’ lives of desire: Time is the fire in which we burn (2009), for example, telegraphs the confessions of John, a male prostitute.

But if Marti follows Arachne in one respect, he follows Athena in another: he refuses to judge. For the Greeks, morals were a human concern: the gods, immortal, were free of such taboos; they were thought to live as humans might if they only dared do as they pleased. In that sense – if in no other – John is a god, and some part of the compelling power of tales such as his is the narrator’s apparent indifference to conventional morality. Certainly, Marti isn’t going to deliver any judgment himself.

Or might Marti be neither Arachne nor Athena? Might he instead be Mercury, who traffics messages between the gods and the mortals? After all, his films often take a transactional form. Money might not change hands, but a deal is still done – Marti supplying the listening ear and the sympathy, his confessors providing the revelation. In that exchange – as in so many involving money – moral judgment is suspended. Marti never seeks to deny the appeal of his narrator’s tales, nor to insist that they are the honest and truthful product of documentary enquiry. His narrators, as they describe their experiences, are complicit in his probing; we, his audience, are accomplices, too.

If desire is the common force that binds the strands of Marti’s practice, on a more typological level the strands are also united by his ambition to portray. Of course, these are not conventional portraits, pictures that mistake a visual likeness for a spiritual essence: he does not present faces as windows-on-the-soul. Marti’s painting-objects are metaphorical, his films are allegorical: both use one thing to describe another. Beads describe their wearer; tales of sex describe a life with or without love. Marti doesn’t pretend to offer up the whole, essential individual to our gaze. Indeed, his work insists on the fact that identity is not a stable essence that can be recognised and captured again and again; instead it is something performed, and it changes each time in the performance. The damaged narrators in Marti’s films may well feel themselves to be “mining their souls” when they speak of their experiences, but what they surely come to realise is that that soul is worn on their sleeve – it can be changed at will. A tale told one way offers one version of a truth; told another way it offers another version; neither offers a more honest reflection of feelings than the other.

Finally, though, if it is true, as Marti suggests, that subjectivity is no more than skin deep, then it is surely a folly to go looking for any common strands in his work at all. He makes objects, he makes films; one urge finds its outlet in one form, another finds its outlet in another. The result can be the basis of a rich public discussion, not merely soulful contemplation.

Morgan Falconer

(Foreword from ‘Dani Marti’, Hatje Cantz, 2012)