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Meet the Artists

Arena Martínez SS18: By Sotomayor

In a few weeks we will launch our next Spring / Summer 2018 collection. For this we have chosen an artist that we admire and that also shares the values of our firm, Arena Martinez: Juan Sotomayor.   The line of work that he have been developing for a few years can be identified with what a scientist does, with the rigorous and methodical task of the researcher looking for hidden certainties, realities that emerge only with the favour of time and attentive concentration. His pictorial activity is supported by the study of the properties of light, its behavior on the surface. But, just as he says, it also has a lot of game, of playful experience consisting in controlling chance, catching it and containing it for eventually, and this is the primary objective, dominate it absolutely. He put traps to light, to test and check its reaction in a game full of plastic possibilities, “light has infinite resources to deceive the human eye”.     In this way, by eliminating the chromatism of certain sectors of the surface, he is finding new realities that create a great variety of light contrasts and, above all, definitely liberate the main protagonist of the game: the vertical line. We could say that these vertical wefts that now take place on the horizontal painting strips have lived in captivity until now. It has been from the denial of the identity of the lyrical landscape when these small plots have come to light. The denial and dissolution of horizontal painting supposes the birth of the vertical order. Now, these signs mark the strong previous unidirectionality generating a whole system of rhythms, a rhythmic reading of the surface.   Materials such as silk and lurex with which we have developed the new kimonos perfectly reflect the meticulous work that Sotomayor has embodied in his works. This week we are preparing the photoshot for the new campaign with the photographer Sergio Almarcha and we will finish receiving all the production of the workshop which, as we have already told many times, is done manually in small local workshops, taking care of every detail to create unique and special garments.   The official presentation of the new collection will be on March 21 in Madrid, where we will celebrate a private party to publicize the complete collection to press, stylists and friends from the art world. If anyone is interested to join please contact us at  

Luxury kimonos with art - Arena Martínez - Espía moda - feat

Espía moda magazine

Arena Martínez in Espía moda magazine. “She has created an unique collection of kimonos”. Visit our kimonos collections

2018 Fashion Trends

The year 2018 has known its ups and downs but it has been greatly marked by memorable trends. Long blazers, fanny packs and especially colorful prints have been seen everywhere from runways to the streets. Even when times have been discouraging at least we have been dressing ourselves cheerfully! And as proof- this year’s color is Ultra-Violet which is linked to women’s suffrage movement as well as the LGBTQ rights.   The German word Zeitgeist « The defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time ». There are ways in which this year’s fashion trends have been reflected by the social, politic and economic changes and how they have impacted the population. This year, we have been travelling more, our incomes have increased, we have delayed purchasing a house and beginning a family. With new technology advancing, we have seen clothes developing new technical properties in all segments of ready-to-wear, jewelry and even luggage. We have also become needier in terms of knowing exactly where the clothes that we are buying are fabricated and whether they respect social and environmental problems. This has been shown through brands like Gucci saying ‘no more’ to fur items. Therefore, brands that have an authentic image towards respecting the problems related to the environment have more chance of standing out.   Sportswear has been in fashion this year, but it goes beyond just athletic gear. Street wear may have been one of the biggest trends so far this year with influencers like Virgil Abloh for Off-White and Kanye West for Yeezy and the collaboration of Supreme with Louis Vuitton. However, despite the unstableness and conflicts of this year we opt for vibrant and colorful clothes. Our marketing techniques have also used strong colors for positive statements, especially the color yellow which has been a great trend as it is purple’s complementary color. Yellow is also significant of combatting global, political as well as social concerns for its joyful symbolism. The fashion trends which we will continue to see are oversized / extra-large, unisex clothing as well as extreme sleeves and asymmetric hems. With Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding coming up soon, bridal wear is also a leading trend with puffer sleeves, capes and feathers which have been seen on the Saint Laurent runways. Art fanatics also show this ‘zeitgeist’ in their art purchases. The year 2018 has shown that we have been growing more independent and we are hungry to expand our knowledge and our understanding of this world. Therefore, buyers are seeking art that will help them comprehend what they can’t understand by highlighting stories that relate to them personally. Our perception of art has changed from objectivity with still life to complete subjectivity today in which we perceive an art piece the way we choose to through our feelings and our life experiences. The same way in which fashion is becoming more about discovering ourselves and dressing ourselves to show who we are in our ‘second skin’!

Contemporary art takes over the city of Lisbon

ARCO is the contemporary international art fair of Madrid organized by IFEMA. It is considered to be one of the most important contemporary art events internationally which is celebrated each year in the Spain’s capital.Its aim is to reunite historical avant-garde to the latest emerging modern and contemporary art.ARCO Madrid was first held 36 years ago in 1982 and since has been one of the epicenters of art in Europe but also for Latin American art. One of ARCO Madrid’s aim was to have a Brazilian presence to reinforce the influence of Latin American art. Their initiative was to create ARCO Lisboa in order to branch out to South America but to also to foster cultural artistic relations between Portugal and Spain. This year, the event was held for the third time from the 17th to the 20th of May 2018. The unusual setting of the historical Fábrica Nacional da Cordoaria was narrow and organized in a way for natural light to fill the main area and highlight the art pieces just like frames.   Since the start of ARCOlisboa, the event has been growing more successful each year. This particular year the art fair was brimming with curators, collectors, critics, gallerists, institution managers and artists. There were 30 galeries which were from countries such as Portugal and Spain but also the United States, the United Kingdom, Mexico and Italy.ARCO Lisboa aimed to integrate the contemporary theme of the event with the architecture of the host building. However, the fair could not only be seen in the Cordoaria. The lively Portuguese art scene could be felt throughout the entire city by international and local audiences by its vibrancy in the city’s history, architecture and light throughout the days of the art event.Another art fair which took place in Lisbon this year but for the first time is the emerging fair JustLX, with newly discovered galleries and artists. Just like ARCO Lisboa, Justlx is a contemporary art fair which surfaced from a Spanish fair: JUSTMAD.   It also takes place from 17th to the 20th of May. However, it was hosted in the Museu da Carris where it conveyed a memorable experience with its various spaces divided into different areas. They were shared amongst Portuguese, international artists, young galeries and individual projects by various artists. Within the majority of the galleries which Spain hosted, 5 of these were from Asturias, the region in which Semíramis González the director of JustLX, is originally from. The curator/director was easily recognizable by her vibrant Arena Martinez kimono and she was also spotted at the Spanish fair of JustMad, where she also wore another model of the Spanish designer’s kimono. The Art in Lisboa has started off well and has a bright future ahead, slowly introducing new art. But most of all it is giving a Portuguese and international experience of what is contemporary art in one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.

Luxury Kimonos with art - Arena Martínez - EDK Magazine - 4

Arena Martínez in EDDK magazine

Arena Martínez: wear contemporary art, a new concept of fashion and luxury. Visit our kimonos collections   Here you can read the article    

The office

Located in la Calle Libertad of Chueca, in the city of Madrid is the Arena Martinez office.Walking in through the door one would believe to be in an art gallery where no wall is left bare of art. Instead of housing furniture, sculptures are the centerpiece of the different rooms. Divided into 2 sections, the Spanish designer and her assistant work in the main office whilst the interns have their office next door once again surrounded by art, continuously refreshing their creativity. As soon as you enter the office you will be welcomed by the brand’s mascot, Toby also known as Tobita who never leaves her owners side. As much of an art fanatic, the Spanish designer Arena Martinez also loves fashion and not only displays her limited collection of kimonos but also bags which are hand painted by the artists themselves! Working in the Arena Martinez office never gets boring from being in the center of the hip area of Chueca to admiring the paintings on the walls and hanging out with the whole office team. An office has never been so colorful!

Luxury kimonos with art - Arena Martínez - Novella - feat

Arena Martínez in Novella

Arena Martínez in Novella. “When fashion becomes art”. Visit our kimonos collections

Luxury kimonos with art - Arena Martínez - Solís magazine - feat

Arena Martínez in Solís magazine

Arena Martínez presented the new collection of the brand in a very special place, Silk Sonámbula Here you can read the article

Arena Martínez – New collection Mnémosyne: By Marina Vargas

Last thursday we launched the our new collection “Mnémosyne”. For this, we have chosen a very special artist which is known by its exhibits and symbolism of her pieces focused in the tarot cards. She is an inspiring woman who shares the values of our firm: Marina Vargas.   The line of work that she has been doing is based on the revision and investigation of the religious, alchemy and magic signs, to reinterpret or modify them, in order to create new stories or existential questions. That is why we called the new collection Mnémosyne, which means the mother of all the muses. The nature of her work walks on the catwalk which promises to be a nocturnal journey where the pieces converse each other when nobody looks at them. Our artist Marina has a wide national and international career. Her work has received numerous awards and recognitions such as the ABC Museum of drawing and illustration, where she exhibited her project “The lines of the destiny”; the Basque Museum of Contemporary Art of Vitoria Gasteiz ARTIUM or the CAAM. Also, she is currently preparing what will be her second exhibition in Mexico, in Ge gallery. In this collection we have developed new garmets apart from kimonos. Winter coats and french coats for a woman that want to stand out and be special in a cold winter. All the manufacturing is handmade in small local workshop in Spain, Madrid, taking care of every detail to create a unique and special pieces. Also, for this new collection, we have made editions of 15 garmets, where all the pieces are numbered by Arena´s hand. The presentation and catwalk of this collection was at Club Matador, a very exclusive club in Madrid, where the assistants could see the magic of the new collection with artsy looks and performances, being able to appreciate the beauty of the spectacle where art and fashion mixed in a very unique way.

The art of Living Frigicoll

14 November, 2018 On Tuesday 13th of November, we attended a private event at The Art of living Frigicoll in Villanueva street number 36 near the Wellington Hotel in Madrid, wonderfull space, we recommend you visit it if you have the opportunity. During the event, several artists that have had something to do with fashion, exhibited their works; among others, two of our collaborating artists; Papartus and Marina Vargas.   We presented two kimonos from different collections; one of them from the new collection: 9 oF cups from MNÉMOSYNE.. The work means the end of a cycle. We let go of the past to start a new path.The nine of cups tells us of fulfilled desires and spiritual as well as material abundance. In the other hand, we presented a bestseller , from the collaboration with PAPARTUS, SERENDIPITY. Before the dinner, there was a tour by the two directors of JustMad Artfair “Semiramis González and Daniel Silvo” they both introduced the pieces while the director of the magazine Mary Claire ” María Pardo” would give her point of view of each artwork and her interpretation of how the pieces are connected to the fashion industry, it was very interesting. We also had the chance to hear all artists speak about their pieces, amongs others, Arena Martínez explained the two kimonos exhibited.   We had the chance to witness a show cooking by Chef Juliano from Italy. It was very different because there were no plates, the chefs cooked and served the food directly on the tablecloth, we have never seen that before and it was very original. The show was divided into four gastronomic experiences: First of all, a crunchy appetizer with tomato and cheese. The second dish, the dish was a pumpkin risotto with crunchy ham. The third dish consisted in a scallop covered by a slice of bacon and mashed potatoes. And to finish, the dessert was chocolate bonbon with coconut chisp, IT WAS AMAZING! It was a very special show, and dinner and we had the chance to have an amazing time with great artists like Ernesto Artillo , amongs others.   Thanks yo JustMad artfair for this wonderfull evening. It is very interesting to see that artfairs are creating events like this.

ARCO Madrid 2018: Welcome to the future

“The future is not what is going to happen, but what we are going to do” The most important contemporary art fair in Spain, and one of the most outstanding of the international circuit, returns to the capital. Between the 21st and the 25th of February, Arco is back in Madrid with its 37th edition, and it welcomes the global artist community to celebrate art. This year there will be no guest country and women will have a leading role. Chus Martínez, Elise Lammer and Rosa Lleó will curate the most interesting proposal of the fair and its central axis, a reflection of the Future concept, “The future is not what is going to happen, but what we are going to do”. Two other programs run entirely by women will accompany “Future”: “Dialogues”, of Maria and Lorena de Corral and Catalina Lozano, and “Opening” with Stefanie Hessler and Ilaria Gianni, this one focused to younger artists and galleries that are less than seven years old. Carlos Urroz, director since 2010, said ARCO is a fair that always anticipates the future in its approaches and that its present are women, in whom they trust as the future of all. In addition to this he also highlighted the return of galleries such as Alexander and Bonin and Team (New York), Thaddaeus Ropac (Paris) and the incorporation of Guido W. Baudach, König Galerie, Monitor or Van Doren Waxter. This edition will bring together a total of 29 countries with 208 galleries, 160 in the general program and 51 in curated ones. To 49 of them it will be its first time at the fair. Latin America and collectors will be the other major players along with women. With initiatives such as #mecomprounaobra the fair aims to promote the new collecting, showing pieces under 5000 euros to lose the fear. In terms of business, a large volume is planned, especially with the International Programme of Collectors, which is expected to come together more than 250 collectors from over 40 countries. Besides Arco, there are other essential events included within the week of art: JusMAD 2018 The emerging art fair will be held between February 20 and 25 at the Carlos María de Castro Palace House. The great novelty of this year is the change of artistic direction formed by the curators Semíramis Gonzalez and Daniel Silvo. The common thread this year will be the meeting between Europe and Latin America. The 9th edition of this fair will have four sections: General program, Brand New, directed to incipient galleries and with a risky programming, Solo Proyect, that offers galleries the opportunity to show the creative universe of a single artist in his stand, and Context, curated by the Dutch Inez Piso and the Mexican Octavio Avendaño, who will make European and Latin American galleries coexist in a common dialogue. URVANITY The first Spanish fair dedicated to New Contemporary Art presents the second edition that will take place from February 21 to 25 in a new location: LASEDE COAM (Hortaleza, 63). This year, the fair adds to its programming artists such as Shepard Fairey, D* Face or Crania. ART MADRID From 21 to February 25, in Crystal Gallery of CentroCentro Cibeles, ART MADRID’18 celebrates its thirteenth edition, this year with Okuda San Miguel as guest artist. The fair will feature a selection of 34 galleries, both national and international, in its General Program. If you are visiting Madrid during February we also recommend these exhibitions: Sorolla and Fashion The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum organizes, in collaboration with the Sorolla Museum, an exhibition dedicated to the influence of fashion in the work of Joaquín Sorolla that can be seen simultaneously in both museums. In the words of his curator, Eloy Martínez de la Pera, the exhibition is presented as a “story” that will take the visitor to the Europe of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Pessoa: All art is a form of literature The exhibition organized by the Reina Sofía Museum aims to discover to the public the vigorous, but barely known, avant-garde Portuguese scene that developed during the first half of the 20th century and in which the poet Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935) -a plot line of the shows- actively intervened through his writings and his versatile artistic proposals. For this, more than 160 works of art (painting, drawings and photography) of 20 artists have been gathered in this exposition. Toulouse-Lautrec and the pleasures of the belle époque The Canal Foundation shows for the first time in Madrid the complete Toulouse-Lautrec poster collection. Along with works by artists from its surroundings, it offers a suggestive look at the novelties of the Belle Époque, not only in the arts but also in terms of a change in mentality and the pleasures offered by “modern life”. It is about the 33 posters made by the post-impressionist painter, in which he reflected as nobody else the effervescent life of Paris at the end of the 19th century. The exhibition also includes more than thirty posters made by authors such as Alphonse Mucha, Jules Cheret or Theophile-Alexandre Steinlen, among others. PAPARTUS : Crumbs on the sheets In the same space mentioned above, COAM, there is an exhibition of the artist Paco Celorrio/Papartus, with whom we have collaborated in our first collection of Arena Martínez. After 12 years away from the exhibition circuit, he returns with two parallel expositions in the COAM and CEART. The first of them, curated by the American Robert.C Morgan, shows 25 pieces that display the work done uninterruptedly during the years in which the artist has been retired to work exclusively in his studio. The 15 pieces in the CEART complement and dialogue with the ones exhibited in the COAM, forming a closed whole. It will be a busy week for art lovers, gallerists, collectors and VIPs from the sector. During these days, besides fairs and exhibitions, there are a large number of events, dinners and private parties, aimed at insiders, that culminate with the ARCO official private party on Friday 23 at NuBel, the Reina Sofía Museum restaurant, where only those lucky with invitation can attend.

The joy of art: Palomo Spain is what’s missing from fashion

Even if you haven’t yet heard of Alejandro Gómez Palomo, you’ll recognise his work from what was arguably the biggest Instagram moment of 2017. In Beyoncé’s introduction of her twins, Rumi and Sir, to the world, she wears a purple floral robe and a long blue veil, styled against a backdrop of flowers as a beautifully lush Madonna and child image. The piece was an original commission, designed for the occasion, and made in Palomo’s Spanish atelier. The whole Instagram-record-breaking image is preoccupied by art history: photographer Awol Erizku’s work deals with a lack of representation of people of colour in the artistic canon, and often depicts direct allusions to famous artworks, Beyoncé evokes religious iconography of the Virgin Mary (literally, iconic), just as the designer, Palomo Spain, plays with history, costume, art and gender throughout his work.   Hari Nef hit the nail on the head in her Twitter comments on the birth announcement: “Beyoncé wearing Palomo Spain in the reveal photo of her twins is making me scream. Bey’s technically wearing menswear for the reveal of her twins – whose pregnancy she framed with so much feminine spirituality. So cool.” In the same way that portraiture from Holbein to Cindy Sherman has used garments, props and accessories as hidden statements, Beyoncé winks at undermining gender assumptions, questioning origins of masculine/feminine aesthetics. But you have to read between the lines.But the image is, above anything else, joyful. It’s radiant and celebratory, and in this, as well as in its hyperawareness of art history, Palomo Spain was the perfect collaborator. At his AW18 offering, which opened the Paris mens’ shows last month, Felip Motwary, fashion features editor at Dapper Dan, reportedly said to the designer, “You made everyone so happy! Without this, everything in fashion would just be a lot of sportswear.” We’re all familiar with it; conceptual fashion has a kind of weight to it, Commes des Garçons, Hood By Air, and even Maison Margiela all have a seriousness about them that quickly saturates a fashion week. It’s true that artistic merit and depth can be, at the same time, exhausting. Palomo Spain has conceptual elements, draws strongly on fetish and homoeroticism, but manages to do so with absolute joy and lightness. And it’s refreshing.     Palomo Spain’s original point of view and joyous side effects made him the first Spanish designer to be shortlisted for the 2017 LVMH prize, and a number 33 ranking in the 2017 Dazed 100, and his upward trajectory is sure to continue with the strength of his latest collection. `The Hunting’ mixed heritage checks, highland plaids, and military style details like pheasant plumed hunting hats with Elizabethan velvet doublets, brocade knickerbockers, crossed with fetish items like thigh-high snakeskin boots and chokers. As Felip Motwary pointed out, the result is dramatically different from so much of the fashion cycle’s output: it’s outlandish, but brings a smile, not a challenge; bold, but also has a quaintness and a softness, in contrast to designers with similarly theatrical aesthetics like Charles Jeffrey and Dilara Findikoglu, whose toughness is part of the point. It’s the kind of work that requires an artist’s sensibility and singularity of vision, the spark to go their own way. This is why we will always champion artists and designers who see the world a little differently at Arena Martinez, who find beauty in different places, and who look to the past and around them in the present in a way that no one else can.  

Anti-fashion and the avant garde: Is Rei Kawakubo fashion’s greatest artist?

“I decided to start from zero, from nothing, to do things that have not been done before, things with a strong image” – Rei Kawakubo Rei Kawakubo is an iconoclast, someone who breaks images, and remakes them. Commes des Garçons, the label that she built, as she puts it, ‘from zero’, is a household name in fashion, and stands for intellect, vision and artistic bravery. At the same time, it has been a solid commercial success: Kawakubo opened her first Commes des Garçons boutique in 1975, just two years after she established the company, and by 1982 the brand was showing in Paris and opening a boutique there. The tension between fashion and art has often been paired down to the age old enemies of high art and what was deemed popular and ‘commercial’. This struggle never seems to have touched Commes, and the genius of Rei Kawakubo lifts her label clean out of any debate like this. Her vision is so unquestionably artistic, so purely about challenge to conventions and boundaries that it could never be seen as ‘just’ a label. She is an artist, primarily, and her pieces are works of art, but none the less she has had phenomenal commercial success. Kawakubo and her husband, Adrian Joffe, founded Dover Street Market, the go-to shopping spot for London’s well-heeled and trendy. It’s a balance that I don’t believe any other label could pull off, not quite in the same way. It’s quite a balancing act to be, on the one hand, possibly the most conceptual and uncompromising label in fashion, and, on the other, one of the most recognised logos on the Internet – a small graphic heart, with paper cut-out eyes, worn by teenagers and celebrities alike, many of whom have probably never seen a full Commes look. I think it has something to do with the fact that Rei Kawakubo’s dedication to art and questioning form and beauty is so unwavering, has been so consistent year after year after year, that it is impossible to doubt the strength of its artistic integrity. Even popularity can’t phase it.   Kawakubo was the first designer to have a Met Gala exhibition dedicated solely to them in thirty years – the last time it was dedicated to a single designer, it was Yves Saint Laurent 1983. Rei Kawakubo / Commes des Garçons: Art of the In-between was exhibited at the Met’s Costume Institute from May to September 2017. Dedicating the most important fashion and art exhibit to a single designer and a single label like this must tell us something about Kawakubo’s status as a legend and an artist beyond what many, many designers have ever achieved. Her aim is to stretch the canvas, to break the notion of ‘clothes’ at the seams, to create something that is constantly challenging. Starting ‘from zero’, to me, means to begin creating with no conception of what fashion ought to be, or already is. Not all designers work this way, not even all artists work this way, but all artists who break ground and change the trajectory of art history worked this way, at least at some point in their careers, creating a different definition of art, or vision, or work, or gaze. They broke images, and remade them. One of Kawakubo’s most famous collections, in 1997, was titled ‘Body meets dress, dress meets body’, and was nicknamed the ‘lumps and bumps’ collection.   To me, its impact was that it deconstructed what ‘fit’, ’form’ and ‘flattery’ mean when clothes and body come together, and by doing this, it questioned what clothes are expected to do for us. It asked, what tricks do we ask clothes to perform, and for whom? The slightly bizarre shapes that resulted suggested movement and dance, which was reinforced by the campaign images of figures mid-movement, but they also invoke freedom. Freedom to move, to bend, to stretch. I think these dresses challenge a patriarchal notion that a body should look a certain way, aiming for sexiness, or beauty defined by slenderness and specific proportions. These ‘lumps and bumps’ dresses call out the fact that clothes are often designed to flatter within those restrictive norms, but they also remind us that they don’t have to. As a designer, as someone who creates clothes, I find this inspiring. I wanted Arena Martinez to work in this way, too, to say to people: clothes are about so much more than flattering, or achieving a certain look. Clothes can have so much expression and say so much. With the simple shape of the kimono, I wanted the art works they exhibit to speak for themselves, allowing the person wearing them to challenge norms, or to communicate something about their personality. I want people to be able to be freer with their clothes, to consider the many many possibilities. As for designers who inspire me in this, I’m not sure there’s anyone more influential than Rei Kawakubo with Commes des Garçons, a living legend and artist. With Love, Arena Martínez.  

Interviewing Papartus: Lessons in individuality

The Spanish artist and original Arena Martinez collaborator on his return to exhibiting and the ‘double art’ of dressing. ‘Describe your art in one word.’ ‘Myself.’ Individuality is vital to Papartus, the artist with whom we created our first collection of Arena Martinez kimonos. ‘It’s myself. It’s autobiographical, it’s how I see the world. For me it’s easier to describe the world painting it than explaining it.’ Talking about his art and his process, it is this word that he returns to over and over: ‘myself’. After spending five minutes with Papartus, you can see how true this is. The vibrancy that bounces off his paintings is the same as the energy that you catch in conversation with him; but there’s something else too, and it’s honesty. You begin to get a sense of the importance of self, the importance of individualism, why in our conversation the word ‘myself’ repeats: because this is simply the only way to be truthful. Papartus seems to know – to have always known – how to be true to himself, as if it is more natural to him than breathing. When I ask about whether he could have imagined, as a child, that his childhood passion would become his lifelong passion, he replies, simply and straightforwardly, ‘I was sure’, no hint of hesitation. When I ask why he prefers artificial light to natural light, he tells me he does not know, but he is certainly more comfortable that way, and when I ask about his 11-year hiatus from exhibiting, again, the answer is uncomplicated, sure, truthful, ‘I preferred to work in my studio, by myself, without showing out my work. There are different moments in life.’ It’s a mantra we can all learn from: discover your true motivations, don’t question them, and learn to validate yourself, without the need of anyone else – gallery, exhibition, curator or spectator. Painting, for Papartus, is something that rewards itself. With this in mind, his pieces ring with more than their vivid colour and graphic intensity, they become intensely personal reflections on meaning and emotion. Words are sprayed across canvases, high contrast colours explode and overlay, but where they are affronting to a viewer, they are also introspective. ‘[Words are] a plastic resource… when you paint them you discover a different meaning appear from the context, the atmosphere, the environment. I use confused words in confused situations.’ These pieces take flexibility and instability, and expose it: they show us words are only one way of communicating and naming and labelling, and that those words can be undone and rehashed. It’s the artist taking his own personal mediation on meaning and letting the world see it. Read our interview in full: How long have you been painting for? All my life. And what was the first experience of painting? When I was really really young, a child, I was interested, as all children are. By the time I was 13 or 14 I was taking classes in the academy, learning how to make the landscapes, portraits and still lives. And did you ever imagine from when you were a child that this passion was actually going to become the passion of your life? I was sure. You were always sure? I was sure. Always. And when did you start exhibiting pieces, and why? When was the first time that you showed? My first exhibition was when I was 17. It was at a kind of bookshop which had a space for making exhibitions. And from there you started exhibiting right away? Or did you take a while to start your career as an artist? No, after that I went to university, and I didn’t do exhibitions but I continued working. All my classmates had a piece of work of mine. Lots of drawings. And just when I finished university, as soon as I could I set up a studio, I did so immediately. I had a little money, I rented a flat, and I made my studio. I have had many different studios and I have been working in them all my life. What do you need from a studio? How do you feel comfortable, what would you ask a studio to have in order to be able to work properly. A place where I can stay and isolate myself from the world. And do you need light to paint? No, no no. I paint with artificial light. Why not with natural light? I don’t know, I feel more comfortable painting with artificial light. You stopped exhibiting 11 years ago, why? I preferred to work in my studio, by myself, without showing out my work. There are different moments in life. You wanted to paint instead of worrying about others. And when you paint do you have any references, any artists that inspire you? You cannot avoid that, but I prefer to talk about the spirit more than individuals. I like paintings which have vitality, sometimes violence, which are a little aggressive, who ask something inconvenient to the spectator. How would you describe your art in one word? Myself. It’s autobiographic. It’s how I see the world. For me it’s easier to describe the world painting it than expaining it orally. Yet you include a lot of words, what is the reason for that? It’s a plastic resource – I mean that they’re not words, they’re confused words. I am not sure about the meaning of these words. We use a lot of words but we don’t know the meaning of these words. So when you paint them you discover a different meaning appear from the context, the atmosphere, the environment. I use confused words in confused situations. And what do you think about mixing art and fashion? It is so difficult. It’s a challenge. It’s unexplored. There should be more people interested in that. Putting clothes over peoples’ bodies is an art. It’s an art. So putting art with art is double art. So it’s double difficult. And how does it feel to see your pieces in Arena Martinez kimonos? It’s magnificent. So I heard you have a big exhibition coming up could you tell me a little bit about that? The exhibition is not about the size, the expectation is about my return to the scene. Because people I think they thought I was dead! Or they thought I didn’t work anymore, so it’s a surprise. It’s not about the quantity, and the size, it’s about renaissance – rebirth. Invitation to the opening of his upcoming exhibition. There will also be an exhibition of “Migas en las Sábanas” at Museum CEART, from 1st of February – 4th of March. It was important for our first collaboration that we worked with an artist that we understood, admired, and had an affinity with, and that they, in turn, felt that they understood us. We could not have achieved that more succinctly than with Papartus. You spend your day in fashion, it’s the self that you present to the world. Fashion invites you to say things about who you are. It is only fitting that we collaborated first with an artist who truly understands what it means to say to the world who you are, honestly, and without fear of others’ opinions. With Arena Martinez, I want to inspire people to claim their individuality through fashion, to dress a little differently. Our vision for the future is to collaborate with different artists, with diverse styles and points of view, reflecting the spectrum of taste that is out there. What unites the different collections and the different people who wear them is willingness to express individuality, people who, like Papartus, simply believe in the truth and rightness of their own taste and style. Thank you Papartus for being our first starting point. Follow him on instagram @papartus_art or on his website  

Lessons in style from art icons,Then and Now

You don’t need to have been to the Frieze of Biennale to know that where art goes, style follows. Arena Martinez is founded on the idea that you can be the canvas – you can bring art into your own life and the lives of those around you through the clothes you wear. Art doesn’t need to be limited to galleries. Here are eight women artists who know this, and whose style reflects the art they create. Jemima Kirke (@jemimakirke) The Girls actress is widely known for her role as Jessa Johansson in Lena Dunham’s Girls, but she is also an exhibiting artist alongside her acting career. We all recognise Jessa’s bohemian kaftans and maxi dresses in Girls, but IRL Jemima has a more down to earth style, with a strong New York cool-girl vibe. Her style’s eclectic: velvets, rich florals, jewel colours, band t-shirts, and a signature red lip all look incredible on the painter. Her most recent exhibition covers her own reflection and confusion around marriage, shared identity, and its place in society. It features a series of beautiful and searching portraits of women, dressed in their wedding dresses, though presented as thoughtful and questioning, challenging the oversaturated image of the bride in uncomplicated, blissful happiness.   Yayoi Kasuma (@yayoikusamas) Yayoi Kasuma is famous in the art world for her idiosyncratic sculptures and installations, as well as for the way that her art spills over into her clothes, her style, her hair – her whole presence. She is part of the artwork, and her artworks are part of her. With exhibition titles like ‘All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins’, you see that the relationship between artist and art is the inspiration point for her work. Polka dots are her signature, and occur in her artwork, and in her style. As well as being a stalwart of the art world she has a fashion career to boot, launching a clothing line in the 60s, and collaborating with Luis Vuitton on a collection in 2012.   Quentin Jones (@quentin_jones) Quentin Jones is the monochrome queen, with her high contrast black and white style reflected in her crisp b&w outfits. A fixture of the London fashion scene, she’s frequently seen front row and at fashion events, and works extensively producing mixed media pieces and films with the likes of Chanel, Luis Vuitton, Vogue, Victoria Beckham and I-D. She describes her own work as ‘a modern take on the surrealist tradition’, and features bold shapes, text, juxtaposed images and distorted bodies in her work. Her style is sharp and cosmopolitan, with pressed white shirts, structured coats, bold black and white geometrics – like those that find their way into her illustrations and collages – balanced with slouchy denim shirts and converse.   Marina Abramović Marina Abramović needs no introduction. She is an undisputed pioneer of performance art, pushing the boundaries between performer and audience, and the limits of what can be considered art in work that is brave and confrontational. Now a muse of Riccardo Tisci, she did not always embrace fashion, and at the beginning of her career had contempt for those female artists who wore makeup and embraced clothes, in line with the thinking of the women’s lib movement of the early 70s. Later in her career however she turned to fashion as a form of self-expression, and became closely associated with Givenchy, often wearing custom creations from the fashion house to public events.   Faye Wei Wei (@fayeweiwei) A dreamy, otherworldly painter, Faye Wei Wei is one of London’s most interesting up and coming artists, with prominent solo shows last year. Her paintings are a colourful riot of stylised figures, classical mythology, fairy-like occult imagery and religious icons. In person, she mirrors the fantasy-filled world she creates in her work, with long dark hair, silk pyjamas printed with intricate designs, or white peasant dresses which look like they come straight out of a pre-Raphaelite paining. There’s something very Alessandro Michele’s Gucci about her free, trinketed and thoroughly beautiful world. She’s also no stranger to the fashion world, painting the sets for Shrimps’ SS18 show.   Peggy Guggenheim With style files on both Man Repeller and Vogue, Peggy Guggenheim is a style icon with even larger art credentials. With collections and galleries named after her all over the world, hers is one of the most famous names in art. Loud glasses are the name of the game here, as she was famous for her geometric frames as well as her outlandish jewellery. She turned her collector’s eye to fashion, selecting pieces for their interest, originality and aesthetic value.   India Menuez (@iiindiiia) Artist and art muse India Menuez is as present in the fashion world as she is in the art world. Subject for, and friend to fashion photography darlings Harley Weir and Petra Collins, India is no stranger to ethereal style with a touch of the bizarre. Her own style has a purposeful naivety to it: tea dresses, ballet skirts, ribbons and waifish beauty, while her work explores empowered female sexuality and the female gaze.   Frida Khalo No artists list would be complete without Frida Kahlo. There’s a reason she’s an Instagram icon as well as an art icon through her defiant mixture of masculine and the feminine, traditional and subversive, both in her own dressing and in her work. Her unibrow symbolised a rejection of traditional beauty norms, and a desire to redefine these standards, and the masculine suits she is often photographed in contrast the traditional colourful dresses from the Tehuantepac region of Mexico, as if to explore the way different identities which can coexist within one person. Her famous self-portraits are indicative of a deeply personal, autobiographical artistic process, one which manifested in the way she wore clothes, too.   Love ARENA  

#PRADA – Miuccia Prada’s Artists

The first collaboration I’d like to look at is a personal favourite of mine, and probably one of the first collections that made a significant impression on me; Prada. In the last decade, Miuccia Prada has collaborated with visual artists at least twice – and they are both up there in my all time favourite collections (a list I hope no one ever asks me to make). The first was SS08, and the second was SS14.   Both collections features illustrations and paintings of women, in markedly different ways. I remember seeing Prada’s SS08 campaign (probably in the Sunday Times Style supplement) and immediately tearing it out of the magazine – out of as many magazines as I could lay my hands on – and plastering my bedroom walls with the pages of the campaign. I would have been around 15, and I found the designs so visually arresting that I felt they needed to be framed, placed somewhere where I could always look at them. I remember being taken aback by what fashion could be, thinking why has no one done this before. Which, of course, is what great art often makes you think – how could something this good not have been thought of yet – why didn’t I think of that. James Jean, the artist whose illustrations adorn the full skirts and silk pyjamas of the collection (as well as the murals in the campaign), creates images which are as beautiful as they are dark. There’s something fairy tale about them, and the luscious curves and lines of the designs used in this collection had something dreamlike about them, but dreamlike and dark, mysterious and slightly occult. It’s the sort of play that Miuccia Prada does like no one else, the sense that there’s something else being said beneath the clothes’ surface.   “We had to work very quickly, so there’s no time to be precious – usually, I spend a lot of time and effort polishing and perfecting my work, so this fast paced collaboration forces me to loosen up”, James said of his work with Prada in an interview with Dazed Digital. It’s striking that working with fashion actually influences the artist’s process, meaning that the artist themselves produces work in a new way, not just the fashion label. Truly exchange. James Jean has just collaborated with Prada again, for Prada’s first ever Resort collection earlier this year. Interesting that when the brand takes a step in a new direction, they nod to the archives. A typical Miuccia Prada genius detail. SS14 had a darkness about it too, but it was more to do with power than it was to do with mystery. Anger, even. The collection featured blown up portraits, in different styles, from graffiti to photorealism, all featuring women of different ethnicities. The sets, as well, featured murals by artists El Mac, Mesa, Stinkfish, Jeanne Detallante, Gabriel Specter and Pierre Mornet, blown up in scale, and all around the themes of femininity, representation, power and multiplicity. It was amazing to me that clothes could make statements so loudly without even speaking. I think Prada did then what Maria Grazia Chiuri tried to do at Dior a few years later, with her ‘We should all be feminists’ t-shirts, but far more powerfully, and far more subtly. The SS14 collection was an incredibly successful collection, commercially as well as artistically, might I add. Vogue’s show report says of this collection, “A really clever fashion designer doesn’t just make you want some of the collection; she makes you want to chuck out your entire wardrobe and begin again.” And it’s true. That’s how I felt about this collection, when, as I student, I poured and poured over the amazing coats with these strikingly different faces emblazoned across them: this – this is how I want to dress now.   Art can say things without speaking, and in these two cases gave an extra layer of depth, power and emotion to the collections. I’ll always remember seeing these for the first time, and that is what art can do, seal a memory of seeing something for the first time. An artwork is not complete until there is a viewer to see it, and there are as many works of art as there are viewers. This is something that Arena Martinez upholds – by taking art out into the real world, onto the streets. By allowing it to come off the canvas, it is seen many more times, more impressions are made, and more people have that moment of viewing that I remember so strongly with these two collections. I’m excited about writing about more collaborations that are close to my heart for this series, there are so many amazing pieces of work out there that have come from two artists coming together to work in entirely new, truly original ways. Love ARENA

FashionArt – the most influential collaborations in fashion

Is fashion an art form? For Arena Martinez, the answer is emphatically yes. But people find the question difficult, and it’s worth doing some drilling into why. People experience art in galleries, behind ropes and glass screens, a specified distance between viewer and artwork. Sometimes, it costs a meal out’s worth to see that artwork. Fashion, however, is experienced in the streets, in bars, on trains, at parties; we can touch and feel clothes in a way that we can’t touch and feel visual arts, sculpture or (most of the time) performance and conceptual art. Does fashion’s materiality take it down a level from art? Or is it fashion’s commerciality? Fashion is dismissed by many as fine art’s less-cultured cousin – and in some ways, it is. Even couture is cheaper that buying art, and fashion is more accessible, less exclusive, and less prohibited by the invisible barriers of class, wealth and education. So there is, at least in practice, some distinction.   I wanted to start this blog with Schiaparelli because there are always exceptions to the statements, couturiers who are artists, who are sculptors and exponents of the avant garde. Rich Owens, Issey Miyake, Rei Kawakubo and John Galliano, to name a few. But all of these artists, without exception, have lines of their businesses (or the businesses for which they serves as creative directors) devoted to bringing cash in, to making money. Businesses do not run without bottom lines, and businesses must make money to survive, and to compete. It is not the same for artists, not to the same extent. Artists do not have shareholders, artists do not have corporate responsibility in the way that Commes des Garçons, for all its innovation and avant garde credentials, does. So perhaps it is the business of fashion which muddies the question of fashion as an art form for so many people. It’s an age old dilemma. Anything touched with the brush of commerce becomes, in the eyes of some, vulgar and devalued, and as society and capitalism grows, we just experience the same old dichotomy in new ways. But. The way we experience art is changing. And the way we buy fashion is changing too. The market for artwork which was once notoriously opaque and impossible to access is beginning to crack open. We view artwork on Instagram, in the same place where we encounter our favourite brands and celebrities. We see our friends’ snapchat stories at exhibitions. Hotels and coworking spaces are renting artwork from galleries and changing the way we mix art into our working environments. Collaboration has never been more important to creative exchange and development, and I’d wager that the amount of collaborations between artists and designers over the last decade has intensified due to the medium-mashing capabilities of the social media sites like Tumblr and now Instagram. When we’re able to curate our own feeds juxtaposing a line of poetry with a Balenciaga campaign, placed next to a piece of baroque architecture and a gestural nude sketch, it makes sense that this exchange will be reflected by designers and artists themselves. In this series, I want to trace a few collaborations which have made an impression on me, some very recent, some a few years past, and to look at what the impact of artists’ exchange has been. Fashion is an art form, but it’s experientially different to viewing art in a gallery – the context is different. Can blurring those distinctions, using clothes as a canvas, alter our experience of wearing clothes, and of viewing art? I’d like to use this series to follow some fashion moments where it certainly did. Love ARENA