Say hello to QT Melbourne’s artist in residence Rowena Martinich.
A local artist from Jan Juc, creating vast, dynamic explorations of colour is abstract expressionist Rowena Martinich’s forte. Martinich has carved out her position in the art world, spanning the realms of public art, painting installations, permanent and temporary interventions, murals within streetscapes, awe inspiring architectural applications and powerful compositions on canvas.
Having recently transformed our Secret Garden, flowing ribbons of colour and brush strokes dance throughout the hotel lobby and level 1, with 16 rotating original pieces displayed throughout QT Melbourne until they’re sold.
Rowena, hello! Tell us a bit about yourself and when you became an artist?
I studied Fine Art Painting (BA HONS), and went on to complete a Masters in Public Art at RMIT University. This is where a lot of my ideas around my practice fell into place. I wanted to expand my artwork into realms other than just the gallery environment, and the idea of transitioning painting into large murals and unusual contexts really excited me. Around the same time, I stared exhibiting my work in art and design fairs and rapidly developed a following of my work.
Our guests are a little obsessed with you work, and so are we! How has your style evolved over the years?
I feel like my palettes have become refined over time. At one stage I was possibly obsessed with fluorescent pigments, then I started introducing more neutrals into my work which offset these colours pretty nicely. But overall, I have developed a bit of a language of mark making and techniques that I have a lot of control over to achieve the effects that I want within paintings. Now I feel like I am drawing on a back-catalogue of knowledge around what works, what doesn’t, how far I can push things, and my capacity as an artist.
Tell us a bit about the process behind Prismatic Threads and how they complement the hotel?
In creating the works for ‘Prismatic Thread’, I very much had the spaces in mind that I wanted the paintings to hang within. The large entrance works hanging above the Lobby; ‘Freestyle 1’ and Freestyle 2’ were painted as one large work that filled the floor of my studio. I rolled out the canvas and began building layers, and as each colour dried I would walk through the work, pouring colour and then following with a giant brush and encapsulating the full bodily movement of creating these large gestural marks. The large scale of these works is really important to stand alone in such a grand space and to be successfully viewed from a distance without losing their impact.
A hard one for you… which piece of the collection do you most identify with and why?
My favourite work in the collection is the one that the exhibition is titled after – ‘Prismatic Thread.’ It is frenetic with energy, yet has space and softness to it. It also has some beautiful subtle drags of multiple colours in the one brushstroke that I love – a mixture of white, pink and apricot. To me it exemplifies bringing a painting to a point and leaving it there without pushing it too hard. I think it is also a reflection of where I am at as a mother, with a super-charged toddler and a baby girl on the way, and how life is chaotic and layered but within that is a delicateness and resilience.
Last question… Could you share some useful tips on how to pick the perfect piece to take home?
With artwork it is important choose something that you respond to genuinely, and trust your instinct rather than be swayed by a trend. If you love something enough you will always find the right wall for it.