Marta Pérez García, Restos-Traces: The Phillips Collection

31 March - 28 August 2022

Marta Pérez García's art explores in a poetic way a wide range of human conditions, from fragility and vulnerability to strenght and survival. Her recent work, created during the COVID-19 pandemic, addresses the troubling yet rarely discussed increase in domestic violence. Due to stay-at-home orders, especially toward women and children. Her Intersections project Restos-Traces speaks to that.


Restos-Traces is comprised of almost 30 female torsos constructed with handmade paper and added elements including wire, nails, metal, spikes, hair, teeth, and old film negatives. The bilingual title reflects the artist's background as a native Puerto Rican living and working in the continental US. The Spanish word restos, means remains or ruins and when combined with the English word traces, the title alludes to the recollection and preservation of memories through visual storytelling, in this case memories of brutality, abuse, and trauma. Unlike the woodcut prints saturated with vivid colors which she is best known, Pérez García's torsos are muted, ranging in skin tones from light to dark.


Modeled after standard female manequins, they are similar in size but differ in appearance and expression. Some are dressed and others are more sexualized; some are hurting while others are fighting. They are at once eerie and beautiful, fearless and dignified. What gives them bearing and power are their accentuated spines symbolizing resistance, tenacity, and continued existence. As Pérez García's puts it, "I try to give, in a way, visibility to the women who are not here anymore, but at the same time for us to see in these bodies our own lives."


Through printmaking, mixed-media, and now papermaking and sewing, Pérez García creates highly palpable and intense artworks whose poignant narratives are driven by feelings of pain and pleasure, suffering and healing. As such they enable visceral and emotional connectedness between the viewer, the subject matter, and the artist, producing spaces of compassion. In other words, Pérez García's torsos are cathartic markers of victory over violence.


Vesela Sretenović, Director for Contemporary Art Initiatives and Academic Affairs, at the Phillips Collection


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