Disposal of Human Identity with Daniel Martin
Interview by: Anthony Hagan All Images courtesy of Daniel Martin

Daniel Martin creates works of art that portray humans as part of nature – devoid of identity.  It is almost as though he realizes that identities tend to weigh humans down and make them difficult to cope with.  By stripping, scrambling and defiling faces, Daniel depicts images that resemble scary zombified shells of people that are, in a strange way, more welcoming because ego has been artistically removed.  Daniel’s work is breathtaking and his words reveal an evolved individual who is able to deftly and effortlessly put things into perspective.

“I am looking for a way to almost dispose human identity through …”

Please tell us a little about yourself – your childhood, siblings, where you grew up, what you liked as a child, strange thoughts as a child/now, unique attributes, where you live now, etc.?

I grew up in a relatively small town called Oegstgeest in the Netherlands with my brother and parents. We lived really close to a forest so that is where I spent most of my days with friends building huts and starting fires. After college I started my own company in 3D visualization in Amsterdam, but after eight years I realized I needed to paint. I live and work in Leiden now.

How do you describe your form of art?

I would call it a mixture between realistic and abstract art. It is mainly figurative/faces now. I am working on a body of paintings that is more scenic, more zoomed out if you will. I haven’t showed any of them yet; I still need to refine them before they are good enough.

What does your art mean to you?

For me art is expression in the purest form.

Your portraits seem intentionally defiled but the defilement does not take away from the deep expression/emotion on the faces even when you can barely see the facial features – Is this your goal and why? What tools do you use for the creation of your work and how did you create your personal art style?

I am looking for a way to almost dispose human identity through the deconstruction of a face. Looking at nature gives me the means to do so. I approach mankind as a part of nature instead of beings with an identity. Most of my work is oil on canvas. I usually start with stains and look for interesting parts to work with. My computer background hasn’t left me yet and I use Photoshop as some sort of sketchbook to look for the best compositions and placement of facial parts etc. In my process, I take photos in between layers of paint and look for solutions on my computer. It is a great way to see a variety of options, options that would never surface only with painting. You get your own style by copying artists you admire, failing to recreate them and eventually finding new things only you can see in your failures and making them work for you.

What is the worst critique you have ever received about your work? What is the best compliment that you have received about your work?

The comparison with established artists is both a compliment and something you don’t want to hear. In the end you want to do something that is truly your own.

Which artist/s do you look up to the most?

Berlinde de Bruyckere, Adrian Ghenie, Marlene Dumas, Francis Bacon, Jenny Saville, Luc Tuymans to name a few.

Since Style.No.Chaser is a men’s lifestyle magazine, what attributes/items/clothing /etc. do you think define a man?

I don’t believe any of these will define a man. Actions and behavior define a man. But if I have to choose I’d go for a knife, something to start a fire with, and a beer.

What is your personal life philosophy?

Work hard, play hard.

Who dead or alive, celebrity or not, artist or not, would you like to go on a two week road trip with and why?

Da Vinci. That man grew to mythical proportions and with reason. Besides being a subliminal painter he invented so much out-of-this-world contraptions, for that time in history. One has to wonder if he wasn’t an alien.

What is your favorite movie of all time and why?

I would have to go for one of the movies based on the books of Stephen King. Let’s say Shawshank redemption. The mood and atmosphere just drags you in.

How can people learn more about your current and upcoming works?

I try to update my website and Facebook page as regularly as possible.

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