Carlos Mare

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Carlos Mare a.k.a. Mare139 b.1965 NYC- Puerto Rican American Sculptor/Painter born and raised between Manhattan’s West Spanish Harlem and the South Bronx during the height of the Civil Rights era. An accomplished and renowned artist of his generation ‘Mare’ is a respected and celebrated artist/scholar of New York’s Golden Age of Graffiti Art. He was among the vanguard artists of his time and continues to be recognized as one of the culture’s most prolific, articulate and most forward thinking artists whose works have always pushed the boundaries of contemporary urban and modern art. Considered a pioneer of Graffiti Sculpture his work and theories are among the most influential in the genre.

As a sculptor, Carlos Mare139 Rodriguez’s breakthrough was in 1984 with his Dadaist ‘Spray Can Brush’ readymade while attending Parsons School of Design and soon after his metal “K” sculpture in 1985. This led to a series of large-scale metal letter sculptures that articulated 2D paintings into reliefs that peeled and folded into space. By 1986, the sculptures departed from the common vernacular of style writing to the more complex study of Constructivist, Cubist and Futurist ideas fused with hints of graffiti iconography. His initial works considered the relationship between 2D and 3D space as applied to physical structures like architecture. His letter sculptures from 1985 became ‘structural interventions’ that when mounted on buildings would become an architectural second skin, thus pulling graffiti from the surface. This concept remains in his oeuvre and has merged closer to contemporary architectural languages.

Drawing from his love of contemporary art he defines his artmaking as a direct conversation with artists and art history, one can see how artists like Frank Stella, David Smith, Tatlin and Julio Gonzalez among others come into play.

His admiration for Modernism and Art History formed his intellectual inquiry on art and culture and where his generation lay in the arc of history. Mare has been regarded as an academic and leading voice in the contemporary urban art world, he was a 2 year HHEC Scholar in Residence at NYU Steinhardt School, US State Department Cultural Ambassador of Urban Arts, he has traveled globally, Europe, Middle East, Africa, South America lecturing and teaching in Universities and Museums alike. His impassioned lectures Art for the Next Century -How Graffiti remixed Art History and transformed Contemporary Art, and Beyond the Arc- Urbanism vs Urban Art are his most compelling.

In 2005 he began his B-boy Abstracts series in which he tackled figurative drawing and sculpture based on the dance form of B-boying aka Breakdancing. These works were born out of his childhood love and involvement with the most revered dancers of his generation, some who were also graffiti artists, who like him found correlations between the dance and art form of style writing. His conversations and observations revealed a visual kinship between artist and dancers that extended to the works of modernist like Kandinsky and the Futurist.

“Carlos Mare’s B-boy drawings and paintings, so refined and visually direct, become coded representations of the dancer’s repertoire of movements and poses. In much the same way that staffed symbols are used to represent the written form of musical notation, so too the simple, gestural icons come to express a visual codification, a defined scale of available movements.” – Robert Smith

Further exploring the connections between style writing and global culture his sculpture work from the 2014 Pera Museum exhibition Language of the Wall explored Calligraphy, Islamic Architecture and Islamic Motifs, subsequent works made in Morocco, Dubai, Sharjah, and Saudi Arabia continued this exploration.

A career spanning 37 years Carlos Mare continues to accomplish success in a variety of fields outside of fine art. He designed the award sculpture for the Annual BET Awards, now in its 17th year, received by major Musicians, Actors, Directors, Athletes, and Humanitarians. Included are Prince, Stevie Wonder, Beyonce, Jay-Z, Denzel Washington, Halle Lebron James, and Serena Williams among them.

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