Lives and works in London, UK
Marco Arias (b. 1988) is a Chilean artist currently living and working in London, UK. In his work, he re-contextualizes images from consumerist culture that are recognised locally or globally, to discover and appropriate their political, social, and visual qualities. Rather than focusing on craft skills, he explores the discursive dimension of the art tradition and its connection to the present.
For Arias, painting is a conceptual resource that serves to formalise massive culture and tease out visual and audiovisual references from a global perspective. By infiltrating contexts where he must work and observing what people consume, he gains insight into the community he is studying. He has always believed that visual signs belong not to their creators, but to their consumers. To accomplish his projects, he collects graphic material, both physical and digital, such as grocery labels, press cuttings from magazines, photographs taken with his mobile, or screenshots from the internet, and derives pictorial interpretations from it, giving signs new meanings.
Arias’s paintings establish a connection between his biography and that of the audience with contemporary art and global culture. They are screens connected to the present, going beyond criticism of our globalised era and its capitalist system of image production. The first time he stepped into a supermarket as a foreigner was in Fairway Market, NYC when he was 20 years old. Seeing the same products and marketing materials he had known since he was a kid aligned and repeated on shelves, far away from the grocery stores of his native Santiago de Chile, triggered memories he had emotionally linked to these images. These familiar forms raised questions such as “Who owns these images? Is everything here mine, or is it theirs?”. That became the main core of his current practice.
Arias’s educational background includes a Journalism degree from Diego Portales University (Santiago, Chile) in 2011 and a Visual Arts degree from the same institution in 2014. He later earned his Master’s degree in Visual Arts from the University of Chile in 2018. He is currently enrolled in Turps Academy’s Studio Programme 2020/2023, London, UK. His largest solo show took place at the Museum of Contemporary Art (Santiago de Chile) between 2021 and 2022, and he has exhibited in South America, Europe, and Asia. Additionally, his work has been cited in several academic publications and press articles, including those in Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Japan, and Sweden.