The words flow free, sincere, lightening the hearts. A dialogue between me and Marta Joryo unexpected. Just as unexpected was the meeting between our gazes, the first time. One day while walking towards other destinations I discovered her art through the window of the Officina Margherita atelier where she has his studio, in via Santa Margherita 14 / A in Bologna, an art that displaces for its multifaceted genuine and almost elusive expression. All this left space for an exchange different from the usual interviews. Our conversation takes shape starting from reflections, stories, ideas and then going into more intimate confessions that reveal our common essence, the courage to be ourselves without conforming to what the outside imposes. Martha’s art accompanies you on an inner journey that awakens the purest, unarmed, childish part that is in you. You cannot grasp it with your mind, with preconceptions, with defined patterns, you can only observe it, follow its flow and become part of it.
Your works are full of colors, nature, exotic places and convey how your path has been full of study and continuous deepening.
Yes, I graduated from the painting course of the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna then, after touring Italy, and Spain, despite having the dream of studying in Japan, I went to live for a few years in Mexico, where my partner had moved for work. In Oaxaca, a city of artists and art full of bookshops, libraries, workshops, ateliers, I worked in an engraving studio where I also learned a lot about weaving. They have a very strong relationship with the ancient world and manual skills in all disciplines. Even when they wrap something for you, they use banana leaves or newspaper. They draw on the resources they have there. When I returned to Italy I went to live in Palermo and worked for a non-profit gallery that dealt with art and architecture. I was then selected by the Bologna Children Book fair for some of my illustrations and the meeting with the Topipittori editori publishing house gave birth to Cicale, the written and illustrated autobiography of my childhood. In the meantime I worked as a florist for three years . Now I have my own brand, Marta Jorio, and with some partners we have opened this atelier where I design and produce hand-printed fabrics and limited series ceramics, unique pieces. This for example is a super heroine, the Tiger Woman.
What inspired you?
They are masked characters who definitely come from the world of Mexican wrestlers that I love very much and that I feel very close. I could tell you a thousand stories but the reality is that things come out as if you were searching with your eyes closed. It is a mixed imaginary. The room that I created for him with floor and decoration are ceramic and design objects that I like and that I therefore introduce in these scenarios. While I’m painting I need to jump into other areas. If I make a curtain I also have to sew, make a vase. I like to go into things in various dimensions. And I like things to have a raw, raw look.
It’s very fascinating because it shows your trace. Do not seek perfection but the humanity of imperfection that the hand inevitably creates. The defects and differences that make that object and the person who made it recognizable and therefore unique.
“Indeterminacy is my forte,” Turner said. I feel this sentence very much mine. I make large patterned walls, all by hand, and they are beautiful, they are imperfect. Before, I had a potter make plates and vases and they came linear. Maybe I was selling them more but they didn’t belong to me. The ceramist who stood by me pointed out that I had to be more in keeping with my personality. It was at that moment that I asked her to teach me how to make casts, to work the earth in a raw way, to cut the edges without finishing them, to leave them more rough. A style that here in Italy is harder to be understood but which is my way of working.
Since you like to range over multiple expressive levels, what else do you create through your art?
I love the scarves where I print my illustrations. I made a series of them with fireworks, wild nature …. And being a Japanese lover, I have a fondness for Noren. They are all sewn and handmade thanks to the help of my mother who is a seamstress. I made them with the dandelion, the flower of childhood, or with sweets and knives, shapes that I find particularly beautiful. I always look at aesthetics, at what intrigues me, what shakes me.
The title of your latest exhibition is Talea.
It is the part of a plant capable of emitting roots and therefore of regenerating new ones. It is a vegetative multiplication. For me it means saying that from one thing another is born, it is prolific as well as my work which is constantly sprouting.
What you transmit to me is precisely in assonance with Bloom as you are. Let our identity blossom for what it is. I know, however, that it is not easy to be fully yourself and at the same time find your place in the world.
I think meditation has helped me a lot as have many other positive and negative experiences. Now I tend to be more fluid. I let go of all that stuff I didn’t need. This point has been clear for two years. It was a period in which I often wondered what sense it all made, but since I decided to show myself for what I am, I meet looks that I never met before. It’s chemistry, I can’t explain it any other way. I used to travel constantly to find tunnels and it became exhausting. Now I am here and I want to stay here as the basis of my work. I have my scarves, my works … Doing what I do gives me a very simple, childish joy, a joy that cancels everything else. When I create nothing exists anymore. Sometimes I wondered what sense it had to carry on all this in the midst of what we are experiencing in the world. Then I realized that what I do is necessary.
We need beauty, kindness, delicacy and, above all, joy to transform what surrounds us. A person who picks up your scarf feels this pleasure that you yourself have experienced. Your art generates actions of peace.
All this is considered useless by the mass as it is not a primary consumer good and yet it is a fundamental uselessness.
It is the concept of utility itself that needs to be revised. If something feeds your soul, it’s more than useful.
Yet, there are still many people who continue to buy fast fashion, objects that have no history, no value. Objects of mass consumption.
I think we all have a fine soul, able to grasp the essence, the wonder of things. The problem is the habits we have. Society offers a lot of harmful inputs. If we only go towards them, it is difficult to train the bright part of us. But we can stimulate it with art, writing, with valuable content.
A 19-year-old butcher passed by here one day. He told me: “I haven’t studied, I don’t know anything about art, but this place is special”. What you say makes sense, it’s true. There are living souls who recognize beauty but it must be urged.
This superstructure depends on whether you fight it or live it passively. It depends on whether you decide to swim upstream like the carp and then become a dragon or let yourself be carried away by the current.
That of the carp is my life and yours too and of those who want to do something in resonance with what it is. It’s hard to be an outsider. But it is an authentic life. My community is wonderful. The people I have decided to have around me are wonderful. And the support of doing together is wonderful too.
We must bring art, beauty, nature into places, awaken the sensitivity in people.
If in an office there was a large painting on the wall, a tatami on the floor to lie down every now and then like in Japan, a huge plant … To make people feel good. Why do we all have to stay so rigid, feel so bad?
Sometimes there is a dryness, such a dry heart … with that heart how do you make decisions for the benefit of people? You don’t have the right predisposition. The more you feed this thing the more it dries up. The undefined of your art brings great definition.
It brings about being close to my favorite side of things, to their truest nature.
How much has motherhood influenced you?
It made me realize that it would take more comfort. If at a crucial point in your life you find the gaze of a person who comforts you, this can change the fate of your existence. During an exam, a teacher I know said to one of his students in panic: “Now you calm down, take a walk and come back. You cannot miss this exam and I know you will answer well ”. She took a ride, came back and passed the exam. If you don’t find a comfortable person in the crucial moments of life, everything can go wrong. So I think hospitality is essential. Create something calm, profound. I love the pink color. There is pink in everything I do. In all. An antique rose, very carnal. It is a color that gives me tranquility, depth.
And what do you see in the future?
I’d like to keep doing what I do, even more. Begin to travel far, measure myself with other worlds. Always keep learning and studying.
Marta has many books in her Atelier and I ask her to choose some that represent her the most.
- Grabados Japoneses. It encompasses Japanese graphics, its cleanliness and at the same time its richness of shape, color and line. A book on Japanese engravings that my partner gave me because he has always been a great supporter of my art. I wanted to go to Japan in Kyoto where they taught these techniques then I learned them in Mexico instead.
- The dress of the revolution. I choose it because it is the whole story of the Patterns of the revolution. A group of women who have decided to break away from an institutional representation and have created these avant-garde geometric patterns and who have reopened and activated textile industries in Russia. They were models that represented modernity.
- Sonia Delaunay. She did a lot of things that I do too. Quilt and textile designer for fashion, painter, she had an atelier in Paris where she sold her productions. She created everything. What she did at the time was considered a minor art and instead it was extraordinary. Her Atelier was called Simultaneous Atelier. She made clothes, fabrics, paintings, theater …
- Endorphin Librida. I did this book with the Edizioni Precarie Publishing House in Palermo. It is printed on recycled paper taken from the markets, impressions on paper created with vegetables, fishing nets, fish fins. She managed to create a world starting from the garbage of the Palermo markets. To make this book we imagined seabed patterns and then evoked the story of Annette Kellermann, an aquatic performer from the 1920s with an incredible biography. The result was a notebook book printed in series of 50 pieces.
- Ocean Noir. A book on African quilts. A sort of flags with applications of shaped and colored fabrics that depict stories, myths, symbols.