Every now and then, you come across an artist that challenges the way you look at things. Those that are not afraid to do whatever the fuck they want to do, with little regard to what you are going to think about it. Andre “Dre” Martinez is one of those artists. A mix media artist that doesn’t hold back, Dre shares his personal journey in his honest, comical and no-holds-barred approach. Growing up in Miami’s Hialeah neighborhood, Dre brings a raw perspective into his own life experience with vulnerability and humor. We visited Dre at his studio in Laundromat Art Space in Little Haiti and discussed art, politics and how the joke’s on us.
What’s your earliest memory of art?
When I was a kid I used to draw all the time. I would draw ninja turtles, transformers, batman logos. I'd draw them and photocopy them and sell them to my friends. I would go to the copy machine next to the bodega and scan them for five cents and sell them. I was like seven years old.
Your art is very outgoing, does that describe you?
I was shy as a kid until my senior year of high school. Then I couldn’t be shy anymore. It didn’t get me anywhere being shy. So I had to recreate myself. My art was very timid. I look back now and say oh damn this is pretty awful!
My work now is very representational of who I am. Art is meant to force a reaction of you. I want people to stand back and look at it.
I have to remind my parents sometimes that I know how to paint. I’ll paint a cockatiel for them and they say “why don’t you paint more like that?” and I’d say who the fuck is going to buy a cockateel from me mom? We’ll, I am a fan of birds. I must have been pirate in the past life.
Do you want to have shock value in your work?
After going to art school you don’t find anything shocking anymore. In the new digital era people don’t remember shit anymore. They are looking for the next thing to be pissed off about. People are pissed off about Trump, man fuck that! America has been awful for black and brown people way before Trump. It’s not that shit sucks now, it’s been awful. Gentrification, cops shooting people, this ain't gonna stop. If the Rock runs for President, I'm voting for him. I make things because it resonates in me. I don’t think about what other people are going to think about it. It’s a moment in my life, a snapshot. I want you to look at it.
How would you describe your art?
My work is about the duality of things. Dark and Light, Good and bad, male and female. I deal a lot with humor and things that happen in my daily life.
Conceptualizing my life. It's a humorist drama. Things that are so fucked up you have to laugh at it. Part of my life that evoke something in me. I talk about personal experiences in my life. I’ve had police harassing me my entire adult life. I want people to feel that and at the same time laugh as to how ridiculous it is.
You have sports and music influences in your work, why?
Basketball is the only sport that you can play by yourself. It’s the drama for the moment. It’s always good to test yourself. Sports to me are fun.
Hip hop has a big influence in my art. When I make things, I break things. When I paint, it has more of jazz sensibility to the work. Hip hop has this edgy street mentality. My sculptures are a depiction of how I am outside. My paintings are more how I am internally.
I saw a sculpture from Robert Gober that changed my life. It's been a big influence in my work.
Item you use the most in your studio?
What do you want to accomplish with your art?
I want to be able to have one of my pieces at the permanent collection at The Met. For a piece to be standing in the same rooms as Picasso. For my grandchildren to someday look and say you know what, the kid from Hialeah did it.