The Luminous side of Mar Canton
 Whoever knows me but a'little' inside-out knows that everything I do is ultimately, a reflection of myself, my feelings and experiences; that, in turn, has caused me to be always labelled as 'Sad'    (Negative seems to be the word these days, and it just makes me laugh)… but nothing is further from the truth, I, simply, enjoy being aware of the good and the bad and that one is senseless without the other.

 “Without doubt, your artwork is exuding with pain, it is brimming over with pain and impotence and it even speaks of death...” Those are Alexandra's words, a very close friend of Seville-born Mar Canton, on her visual works “… But there is something else, something hardly noticeable, a cry to Life, a vindication of Survival: surviving and what is more important, doing it under your own terms...”

 
La Bendita Templanza | The Blessed Temperance | © Mar Cantón, 2105


“Meat is murder” | © Mar Cantón, 2016

We were introduced by a friend only tolater realise that we already had quite a few in common.  Our affair with Mar Cantón was a case of love at first sight.  This is how great love stories begin…  never mind about what follows.  It all begun with little phrases: “your way, my way”; “not yours, not mine”; “you put the phone down first, no, you first,  you silly thing...” which finally cristallyzed into something the moment we jump started 'Would you please illustrate our madness?' It was then that Mar managed to convey her own madness to us all.  She is just like that.  One for embarking upon mad enterprises...

“Death, Life and Hope” | © Mar Cantón,2016


 Renacimiento | Rebirth | © Mar Cantón, 2016

“I am still a Publicist, a marketing creative, that is what I do…" Mar studied advertising.  She is a specialised technician in Advertising and an Expert in Marketing.  It was not her calling, but it was the closest she could get to art while having a fair chance at finding a job quickly.  “Art is my passion since childhood.  My drawings go back as far as my memories, my first oil painting… well, I think I was 13 years old”.  It was her father's fault (sooner or later we end up blaming our parents for all our philias and phobias).  After all, it was him who bought her her first paints and her first easel…  "Maybe It is him, standing out as the central figure in my life.” 

El escondite | The hiding place – (Ring from psychopath) | © Mar Cantón, 2015


La Gran Mentira – Pérdida y Liberación | The Great Lie – Loss and Liberation | © Mar Cantón, 2015

"I did well professionally, always in positions I enjoyed; I worked for a number of companies as well as a freelance.  This profession is definitely one for continuous change.  I was lucky...”.  She admits that she cannot stand that atmosphere now, she enjoys it for its Artistic side and its value as a Social Science, “one learns a lot about “human psychology”,  but in practise I detest how it is mostly used...” 


Silencio | Silence | © Mar Cantón, 2015 


Volviendo de un sueño – Ensoñación | Returning from a dream – Dreaminess © Mar Cantón, 2015

She has a reputation for being as dark as a cockcroach, sinister, even… “They call it 'Dark' nowadays”, she emphasizes.  “Tsk… I do not enjoy all kinds of dark art by default, what I do enjoy is the works, or the artists, who strive to cry out loud SOMETHING that comes from deep within…  It could be better said like this:  rather than enjoying all 'Dark Art', per se, what I like is 'The Dark Side of Artists'.”  




Santa Marina | © Mar Cantón, 2015 



Experimento | Experiment (Lillian Gish-01) | © Mar Cantón, 2016

At home - “fortunately”- there were tons of books, about Art, as well.  She met there her greatest influencers, she admits (“almost exactly in this order”):  Kahlo (“her constant cry… her cheek, her freshness and her blackness”), Giger (“The Great master, without a shadow of a doubt…  the first”), Goya (“Tearing apart both, his own times and all the rules”.  The Black Paintings, those he painted at his own home, almost furtively.  Also the engravings: The Disasters of War, the Caprichos...”) and Joel-Peter Witkin (“I arrived at him a little later,  he taught me the beauty in the ugly, in the marginal,  he taught me how to see that side of things others refuse to see”)


Criatura Acuática VI – Conversaciones | Aquatic Creature VI – Conversations | © Mar Cantón, 2016

Cuando todo es dolor | When all is pain | ©Mar Cantón, 2015

When all is pain, days don't seem to go by and I cry inside 




In my heart | En mi corazón (Detalle) | © Mar Cantón, 2016 

And then, illness struck.  From being a perfectly independent, active and happy woman, with her own job and her own home to “receiving a letter from the social services at age 33, your world falls apart… a life-changing-low-blow”.  Many years in which I felt unable to create almost anything, soon followed.  Aside from the occasional odd spell;   health reasons, relapses, poor vision… “all the problems begun to manifest themselves through my eyes: pan-uveitis, bilateral optic neuritis...”


Criatura Acuática – Mar Muerto | Aquatic Creature – Dead Sea | © Mar Cantón, 2016 




Canción de cuna para un niño muerto | Lullaby for a dead child (Detalle AMDG) | © Mar Canton, 2015

She spent a long time absorbing art on the net, discovering hundreds of new artists and new techniques. 
Until, approximately two years ago, “collage” caught her attention, as she puts it: “I hardly knew about this world…  and it proved immense...”.  After leaving behind “a massive depression” and taking advantage of her digital skills that somehow were still there, she started venturing into doing things again, … “I was attracted by the likes of artists such as Christian Schloe or Catrin Welz-Stein, chiefly as a “technical” guide,  I saw their works and was able to decypher how they were made.”  



Casa de muñecas | DollHouse | © Mar Cantón, 2015 




Arcano – Los dos caminos | Arcanum – The two paths | © Mar Cantón Marzo, 2016 

By first hand experience, she discovered that what she was doing now was quite similar to her previous creative work at the agency, basically Photoshop editing… but with something extra especially for her: “digital brushes, digital painting', I had to make too much of an effort, visually, in order to draw or paint – which is what I would love doing – with my own hands, and I was really frustrated by the fact...  “At the computer, and by setting up my own work schedules it was much easier, I felt”.  And that is how she started again.  “I begin by taking fragments from everywhere and I play around with them by creating different collages until a particular 'form' inspires me and I then let my imagination fly, editing and fusing the different pieces within the painting,  once that is finished I go over it again digitally, even after the work is “finished”.  I rarely know what the end result will be before actually doing it.  I let myself be carried away.” 
I call it “Digital painting over digital collages”, although I do not know if it is the proper term.

AMDG 01 (Censurado) | © Mar Canton, 2015


“I then encounter virtual censorship:”«For the greater glory of God»”. «Ad maiorem Dei gloriam 01» and «Ad maiorem Dei gloriam 02, St. Agatha» are its fruits.  “I felt really inspired by the faces and the stances of Our Ladies of Sorrow in the Seville Baroque imagery (it is the one I know best)”.  The first instance was a “Facebook pornography report ”from a “die-hard” Catholic, and the second on the reply to the report, “Nipple-less”.  “All this absurd return of censorship, which is so damaging to art and culture, seems to me a perfect reflection of the world we live in and where we are heading… straight to hell.  No doubt about it.”  



AMDG 02 – Sta Agata | © Mar Cantón, 2016
“… straight to hell.  No doubt about it”

We sincerely hope that such 'ominous predictions' do not come true and we may still enjoy her company and her work immensely, and so we tell her!  Mar does not play hard to get:  “I only hope that this spell does not dry out because it has literally brought me back to life, it has made me feel useful again, fulfil myself, and above all to express myself.  And this is how I live my days, not thinking too much about tomorrow, cannot really afford it”

It is not until a long while has passed since we said good bye to her - upon silent reflection - that we realize just how important it has been, both, to have had this chance to admire the artist and to get to know just the type of woman who Mar Canton really is.  And it is now, after having taken a glance at her luminous side, both as a woman and as an artist, that the last words from her friend Alexandra about her, begin to make sense:

“(…) I read and I hear a cry for help that moves me, the echoes of the cry of a badly wounded animal, your crying, my beautiful zebra, who is capable of being half zebra, half wolf, crying out to be accepted and to begin the journey forward” 


Originally Published here.