Marthalicia Matarrita in the Sundance Channel HQ studio.
Harlem-based artist Marthalicia Matarrita specializes in a very specific medium, one that mixes street art, hip-hop and performance into what can best be described as live painting. She currently represents New York City at ART BATTLES, pioneers of the Live Art Movement. Often called the “Iron Chef” of the art world in that it’s a live, timed competition, ART BATTLES pits artists who favor bold, graphic, street-style visuals in theme-based showdowns. In Matarrita’s latest battle (which you can see still images from above), the artists were asked to interpret Picasso’s “Guernica.”
Miranda July. Painting by Marthalicia Matarrita.
But before the next round of battles begin, Matarrita is stopping by Sundance HQ in Park City, UT this week, where she’ll create live illustrations of festival-goers who drop in. Whether she’s painting on a large canvas backed by loud DJ music at a battle or working on smaller-scale illustrations, Mataritta maintains the same hip-hop-inspired fluidity in all her pieces. In fact, music has been such a major part of her life that she founded M-Squared Art Productions in 2006 with her brothers Tomas aka Atomic and Jorge based on what she calls “the four elements of hip-hop: music, graffiti, art and dance,” especially breakdance. “What hip hop does for breakdancers is the same for graffiti-writers and painters. My performances are influenced by it.” Performance, or process, is key for Matarrita. “The process in creating the artwork is both therapeutic and meditative. The end result is the satisfaction in my labor of love, my art.”