A Jack of many Trades and [Archives:1997/40/Culture]

October 6 1997

Master of ALL
He paints. He acts. He teaches science and mathematics. He is a ventriliquist. Those and more are some of the gifts and activities of Martin Dansky. Martin, 44, born in Canada, began his art career in Italy. He had trained himself in artistic centers in the Concorde University in Montreal before going to Italy. His paintings are today circulated in the Czech Republic, Greece and Canada. Representing an Italian gallery here, Martin promotes Yemeni paintings in that gallery. He appeared ocassionally in cabarets with Groucho, his ventriliquist doll, in Italy and Canada. His art is a kind of slapstick humor on people’s fallbacks and bad habits. Martin is currently employed by the American school in Sanaa to teach a number of courses in mathematics and science to high school children. He is also tutoring in English. Yemen Times is happy to present this talented person to its readers.
Q: How are adjusting? A: This is my first experience with Yemen. People here are quite pleasant and I enjoy the surroundings and mountains.
Q: Have you starting brushing yet? A: I intend to take an aesel and paint brushes. I am especially thinking about going to the villages and paint my own interpretation of them. Perhaps I will symbolically paint a villager in front of a classical style building.
Q: How long will you be staying here? A: Well, I should be here for a year. I hope to meet other artists both in the field of painting and in cinema and theaters so that I could share my work and learn more. I also like to travel a lot.
Q: Will you be teaching art? A: Unfortunately, No. Although I would like to do. I do dedicate myself to painting after my work day.
Q: Could you tell us a little bit about your artistic technique? A: I developed a technique of my own as far as my paintings are concerned, which is naive. I’d like to show reality in my own way and this usually involves moving landscape scenes or the interior of buildings that I paint with statues that suggest a certain reality.
Q: How about your acting career? A: I am an actor in theater and in film I have done some very good films in Italy and in Canada with American, French, Italian and Algerian actors. I did a film with an Algerian actor about the voayge of terror, the story of the Achle Lauro. However, I am not a mean actor. I am a very good small-part actor in films which have brought me into contact with big mean people like Liza Minnelli, Burt Reynolds, and Burt Labncaster when he was alive. He was in the the Achle Lauro film where I played the role of Hassan – an Egyptian diplomat who works as a mediator between the Palestinians and the Americans.
Q: Do you think the Italians or the Yemeni taste that would inspire you to paint? A: Well Sana’a is so different from Rome that it should inspire me in some way. The fact that I am reminded of that kind of monumental classical structure as many of the old buildings of Rome. Here, I see something a little bit more stark. The ochre colors of the old buildings, the lands around the city appeal to me very much. It’s so different from the Roman scene that it should give me new ideas, which is what the artist really needs to be able to paint new scenes.
Q: You tend to paint nature more than humans. Why is that? A: Yes, you have a point there. I have difficulty painting human form. I tried several times. I succeeded but I find it not a part of my personality. I like dealing with people, but I find people can be subject to critical views that I just prefer to paint nature. The occasional individual, though, enters my pictures.
Q: What colors do you like to use? A: I like to use light colors, very bright red and yellows. These colors often dominate my paintings. Lately, I tried to balance between the bright and dark colors to give my paintings more dimension. I picked that up from the realistic movement, which is going on now in Italy and Canada. The use of shading has now come into my paintings – a dark background which will reveal a bright foreground, say. But I like very much bright yellows, reds and sometimes blues.
Q: How would you describe your artistic elements? A: I have repreated elements in my paintings which go back to my childhood – stayaways and walkaways that come out of my dreams. My paintings are experimental. It follows a sort of experimental school. I’d like to use new techniques to create a play with dimensions. I am a bit tired of the just a 3-dimensional painting. I’d like to do things, which have been done before, but give the artist different views to see things. Many people, for example, might have difficulties to determine which is the upper-part of my painting. I have to tell them which one is which. You see the painting itself could be not one but two or three, depending on which way you look at it.
Q: have you been influenced by other artistic schools? A: Well, I appreciated some of the work done by Canadian artists of landscape which goes back to the famous group of seven who painted landscape scenery in the wilderness of Canada. Recently, I have been also influnced by the modern painters who were famous in the fifties in Italy like Catuso. There is also some Chagale in my paintings and Picaso – the great masters. They liked to create a message from the symbols that they used. In light settings, I often use nagels and cupids in the background of my paintings, and sometimes use virgins in the front. Lately I copied some cartoon characters in my paintings.
Q: Are you planning to hold an exhibition in Yemen? A: Yes, I had been to the Hadda galery and they were respetive. I’d like to approach the embassies of Italy and Canada to see if they hold exhibits. And I’d like to do both collective and individual shows. Q: Will you be presenting a puppet show here as well? A: Well, I haven’t got the puppets with me. Eventually, I would like to contact a theatre where I could do a spot for ten minutes and make up a musical act. People might not be used to it. Then, it breaks up and this also helps people get involved because I go from table to table and have people introduce themselves to the puppet. The puppet talks and I don’t say anything.