Martha Pachon Rodriguez is Colombian, but Italian by adoption: for more than 20 years, in fact, she has been designing and manufacturing beautiful porcelain artefacts in her atelier in Faenza, one of the most important centers of Italian ceramics. With her experimental and creative attitude, Martha draws inspiration above all from nature and human spirit, creating a perfect combination of shapes, colors and sounds. A poetic and refined know-how that fascinates anyone who crosses the threshold of her magical cave. An overwhelming passion, a happiness of doing that captivates since the first meeting.
What is your history?
I have been very lucky. I was born into a creative family of intellectuals: my parents attended artists, writers, poets, musicians and journalists. They educated me in a very broad view of reality… After my two degrees in Art Education and Fine Arts, I worked for 10 years as a teacher at both university and high school. Finally, I came to Italy 21 years ago in Faenza, where I specialized in stoneware and porcelain. Then came the travels in Europe and Asia, the artistic residences, the exhibitions, the installations, and my works have evolved into sculptural porcelain.
I came to Italy 21 years ago in Faenza, where I specialized in stoneware and porcelain. Then came the travels in Europe and Asia, the artistic residences, the exhibitions, the installations, and my works have evolved into sculptural porcelain.
There are two people who have most influenced and encouraged me: my art history teacher and the director of a gallery, who asked me to exhibit my thesis work in her space, once it was completed.
Is there a person who influenced the choice of your profession?
There are two people who have most influenced and encouraged me: my art history teacher and the director of a gallery, who asked me to exhibit my thesis work in her space, once it was completed. She had seen all my thesis design works and financed everything: so I gave free rein to creativity by producing my first large-scale sculptures in stoneware and terracotta.
Why did you choose to work with porcelain?
Porcelain chose me, or perhaps it arrived without my looking for it, I had never thought about this material, it was far and difficult for me. But my very fine stoneware works did not give the results I expected. So a French friend told me: “Why don’t you make them in porcelain?”, and she gave me 4 porcelain loaves. I have worked a lot with different types of porcelain, I have spent periods of time in France, Belgium, the Netherlands; generous friends have taught me many things. Then came China and Japan, where I learned, shared and worked without rest. I believe that the choice of porcelain carries with it a meaning: I like to work slowly, with skill, with joy, without neglecting anything. Only a material like this could make me happy and facilitate my art project.
You have Colombian origins: how do you combine your history and origins with the Italian tradition?
I summarize this in three words: "between two seas." America and Europe have always been a crossroads of cultures. I live between two seas, thanks to the immense power of evocation, faithfully reflected in my complex narrative: there are the my origins in pre-Columbian textile inspiration or in the colors of Andean America and above all Caribbean, but this interpretation has been enriched by the Mediterranean, with Italian scents, flavors, affections and colors. Over time my works have begun to reflect themes universal to express my opinion on specific issues between two seas.
From what do you draw inspiration for your works?
A part of my work is inspired by the fusion of eroticism and human seduction with animal nature, thus the series Sein-oursin (play on words and sounds, in French: breast-hedgehog) was born, the voluptuousness of marine and human forms feminine. Many of my collections have bizarre titles and concepts, a combination of reality and fantasy, derived from the famous “Magic Realism” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. A second part of the work is the result of ethnographic research inspired by the Mediterranean, Giotto and Baroque painting. I create scenographies, such as the Floating worlds / fluctuating worlds series, composed of various objects of sophisticated and complex process, where I am not interested in the object itself, but the atmosphere of the whole composition, the light that shines through the porcelain, the contrasts of colors, artifacts between two seas and between animal or mechanical nature.
Is there a work that you remember with particular emotion? Why?
I think the most exciting work was one of those born from my ethnographic investigations of many years ago, when I came to live in Fognano, a small village on the Romagna hills. Some elderly women told me the events they experienced in their distant youth, after the war, when to contribute to the family economy they produced and sold beautiful lace in nearby Florence. Travel by train, at the time, was a symbol of freedom and great change for their lives. So slowly I collected stories and fragments of lace donated by my new friends. I made serigraphs for ceramics with these precious fragments and I printed them inside ambiguous objects halfway between a boat and the female intimate anatomy. This impudic lace series consisting of 13 “porcelain boats” was presented at the Andenne Biennial in Belgium, winning the first prize.
What is the most extravagant work that you have done?
I wouldn't exactly talk about extravagant works… rather peculiar ones. Certainly the series of light installations such as the Bridal Cloak, Medusa and Water Garden. They can be appreciated by involving sight, touch, and hearing. Obviously it is a series that required trips to China. I learned that the stamp of the porcelain was an added value beyond the softness to the touch, the translucency and the whiteness. A respected Asian collector always asks the artist or dealer to have a tiny hammer available, he will try the sound of sculptures, vases, plates... The sound of real porcelain has no comparison. My light installations are also friends of Aeolus, he will make us hear the music of porcelain...