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Mario Martinez is a contemporary Native American Abstract Expressionist who uses abstract forms reminiscent of Western modernist art to represent spiritual elements of Yaqui tradition. He was raised in a Yaqui village that became engulfed by the city of Scottsdale, Arizona, and he grew up in the Phoenix area under the influence of three cultures: Yaqui, Anglo, and Mexican American. These multiple cultural influences are reflected in his paintings, particularly Yaqui song, dance, ceremony, and religion, and European modernism. His work has been primarily inspired by Wassily Kandinsky and Pablo Picasso, and his abstract compositions are constructed with layers of meaning.
Ceremonial Landscape synthesizes Western modernist visual traditions and concepts with images inspired by Mario’s Yaqui heritage, using bright, compelling colors. As a landscape, it is an abstract expression of Yaqui ceremony and the cultural and physical environment into which ceremonial activities are placed. Those who know something of Yaqui culture will recognize the stick or sword, important in many Yaqui ceremonies. Martinez works primarily in acrylic and oil, using color very effectively. In the early 1990s, he began adding materials other than paint to his canvases. For Ceremonial Landscape, he used acrylics and materials common in traditional Yaqui ceremonial regalia.
from Snite Museum of Art, Selected Works: Snite Museum of Art (Notre Dame, 2005)