About self-portraits and icons

November 26th, 2011

I have started a series of self-portraits, which is still in progress. I consider them as „icons“, or at least they are „iconesque“.

In the Christian tradition, an icon „presentificates“ the sacred, materializes it. The golden background or the halo is a very important part of the image because it transposes the painted figure into a non-natural space, which is that non-materializable, non-paintable, non-representable space where the sacred figures live in. Anna Moraova explains it in simple words: „ on a very personal level icon is for me ‘a window’ through which I look into another dimension“.

An icon’s golden background is symbolic, it conveys to the painted theme this „other dimension“, liberates the sacred persons from our material world. A very simple example of “icon background” in our every day life is portrait photography: the routine (unless we are doing some artistic photography) is to focus on the person and dematerialize the background, make it seem blurry and unrecognizable, in a way that the person we are portraying is sacralized, “immortalized”.

I personally like playing with the idea of aura and I use it for this recent series of self-portraits.
The „sacralization of oneself“ is integrated in a process of quest of identity.
The aura is not always „golden“. Here it is yellow:
Self-Portrait on a rainy Saturday night by Ina Mar
Self-Portrait on a rainy Saturday night by Ina Mar

Here the aura is complemented by kitchen tools:
Self-Portrait as the Perfect Housewife by Ina Mar
Self-Portrait as the Perfect Housewife by Ina Mar

Here the woman’s mirrored vision as a doll is the icon:
The painter's model in front of the mirror by Ina Mar
The painter’s model in front of the mirror by Ina Mar

Here the aura is black:
Self-Portrait as a pianist by Ina Mar
Self-Portrait as a pianist by Ina Mar

Here it is rather a reference to the iconic “golden background”. This is a portrait of me in time: From left to right: granny / me in the past / me in the present / me in the future. The background changes from light yellow (childhood), to yellow (youth), then to golden (older age) – the golden is of course the most elevated form of sacredness and symbolizes in my image maturity.

Self-portrait in time – Hommage à Jansem by Ina Mar

I have been very inspired and influenced by Vibeke Tandberg’s work, even though you will see absolutely no visual connexion to her images. I still cherish a lot one of her first series, „Posthumous (Aftermath)“ created in 1994, a series of photomanipulations where she appears as a missionary in Kenya, helping the poor, healing the injured, teaching poor children. The last part of her project is as series of fictive obituaries in newspapers, announcing the tragical death of great missionary Vibeke Tandberg. The sacralization of oneself, elevating oneself, becoming a martyr, representating ones own death and people mourning over your death is a theme which for me has to do with self-reassurance, self-seeking, seeking of ones identity – especially if you take a look at the rest of Vibeke’s artwork.

IKONesque, a RedBubble group about iconic images: http://www.redbubble.com/groups/ikonesque

Etsy discount coupon

April 5th, 2011

-10% on all my Etsy items
with the code ETSYAPRIL2011
on http://inamar.etsy.com


About images and their titles

February 7th, 2011

Sometimes I draw something and until the last second I don’t really know what it means and what it is and who it is and why I drew it. Even though I have consequently planned each and every element of this image with rough sketches. I think “What the hell is this? Why am I drawing this?”.

Sometimes I leave it on my desk for a day or two, then come back to it and know more about it: “Oh my God! That is a Nereid, a sea nymph protecting the sailors!” and I draw the last lines.

Sometimes I never discover what it is and why I painted it.

Sometimes I run over the pages of my favorite poetry books, hours and hours, trying to find my image in them, words that speak of my image. That is because I believe that finished images and finished words are like souls – if they search each other long enough, they find each other. Souls find souls, images find words, words find images that speak to each other directly, without embelishments and without misunderstandings. Sometimes I do find a soul sister for my image in my poetry books and the words give the image its sense back.

Sometimes I don’t find it. The image then remains lonely.

An image without words has for me kind of an open identity. Everybody can give it a name and a sense. Sometimes I like this, it enriches me. Sometimes I don’t want people to give names to my images. It would be like letting someone name and explain my feelings.

Do you prefer images with titles or “Untitled” images? Do you prefer finding your own interpretations for an image, or hearing from the artist what it means?


August 14th, 2010

Hey, dear customers, fans and friends,

in fact I have lots of new images, but I can’t find the time to publish them and explain them in my blog. I promise to do this soon.
Just visit my RedBubble gallery for the newest artworks:


Waiting for a phantasy

June 30th, 2010

“Am I in love? — Yes, since I’m waiting.” The other never waits. Sometimes I want to play the part of the one who doesn’t wait; I try to busy myself elsewhere, to arrive late; but I always lose at this game: whatever I do, I find myself there, with nothing to do, punctual, even ahead of time. The lover’s fatal identity is precisely: I am the one who waits. (Roland Barthes, Fragments d’un discours amoureux. L’attente p. 47-50)

This artwork is about waiting. About the fatal identity of the one who waits for a promised (or hoped for) sign, waiting for a proof of feelings, hoping for silent communication, without reciprocity. Truths are confused with fantasies and wishes. The delay of the other is analyzed and at the same time the one who waits is brainstorming, having a mixture of unimportant and substantial thoughts.
The accompanying text (see below) explains the artwork – a girl waiting all day long in front of her door for someone to come – her waiting symbolizes and dramatizes more trivial scenes of waiting, eg. refreshing your inbox, waiting for someone to log in to a chat room or instant messenger, waiting for a phone call, waiting for someone in a cafe…

Ina Mar, Waiting for a phantasy, 2009-2010, mixed digital and traditional media

Ina Mar, Waiting for a phantasy, 2009-2010, mixed digital and traditional media

Her eyes are fixed on the floor. She knows that he’ll be coming any second now, so she doesn’t move. She remains seated on her knees in front of the door. Her eyes scrutinize every detail of the door:

The paint is beginning to flake off here. What’s that little scratch? I suppose it’s from that day I was hurriedly leaving for Paris and bumped against the door with the suitcase. Why was I in a hurry? Certainly the usual: I must have waited to get ready until the very last moment and almost missed the train again – how typical of me. Why isn’t he coming? What time is it now? A wall clock, that’s what I need. Hm… I think I shall have to clean the skirting boards sometime, I never bother to do it and it’s so dusty. What an occupation, cleaning skirting boards… Perhaps I’ll do it tomorrow. I have some kind of appointment tomorrow; I don’t quite remember what it is. I must have written it down in the calendar, let me check.

But she does not leave her place to check the calendar. She changes her pose and squats on her haunches.

I had planned to show him my new artwork today. Do you think he is going to read the text I placed in the background? Nobody ever reads these texts: they must all think they’re visual effects. But it’s better that way, I don’t like everybody to read my texts, they won’t understand them anyway. But I’d love HIM to read this text. And what if he doesn’t like it? What if he doesn’t realize I wrote it for him, about him? What if he realizes it’s about him and starts acting distant again? What if he doesn’t believe me? What if he says I’m exaggerating? He thinks “despair”, “anxiety”, “abandonment” are words too strong to utter – oh, he just has no idea. This tile has a broken corner, I never noticed it before. Come on, where are you? Why aren’t you coming?

Her knees are aching and her feet are cold and numb. The floor is cold and it’s getting dark, but she just doesn’t want to get up. She doesn’t want to turn on the light; she doesn’t want to stretch her legs. She denies it to herself! She doesn’t want to run the risk of missing the moment he comes in. What if the door opens while she is missing from her designated waiting place? What if he comes in and she’s not there? That kind of disaster always happens in a fraction of a second! No, she has to sit there and wait, without doing anything. So she won’t miss the moment he comes into the room, so he can see her there waiting. Anyway, she knows he’ll be coming any second now. He HAS to come. Her wish is so strong and sincere that it must come true. Perhaps the fact that she remains seated in exactly the same place for hours on end will force him to come. There must be a way to make him feel her desire and force him to come more quickly. She tries to concentrate on her thoughts, to send him the message that she is waiting for him. If at this very moment the door opens and he sees her, he is going to know that she has been waiting for him. That’s why she won’t abandon her position.

I didn’t even get to comb my hair and dress up today. I came here directly from my bed. That’s another sign of my love: I’m sure he’s going to notice and appreciate it. I didn’t even take a look at my e-mails. What if he sent me an e-mail? No, he never writes on Saturdays. What if he wrote today? Have I eaten today? I don’t remember. It’s OK, we’ll eat together. Do you think he’s going to sense I am in angry with him because of his delay? How would I show it? Am I angry? Why can’t I be angry with him? Why do I forget everything the moment he appears? Anyway, if he comes today, he will sleep here and we’ll wake up together. Maybe tomorrow I should call my brother, haven’t talked to him in a week. This CD is really awesome; I can’t understand why he gets annoyed if I play it again and again. This track, this verse, no, the next one, wait, was it this one or the next one? This is it! He left last Monday while this verse was playing. He said: “May see you this weekend”, then closed the door and went out. I listened to his footsteps on the stairs. Imagine if he came in right now, while exactly the same verse was playing – what an illusion! What if he forgot that he promised to meet me today? Didn’t he promise? Of course he did. What time could it be now? I want to think of him but somehow I can’t concentrate on thinking of him. What might HE be thinking of right now? He must be in a bar with friends, he’s sure to have gone out, it’s Saturday night.

Suddenly she realizes that if she concentrates on her thoughts, the message should travel to his ears, he will then sense her despair, feel that she needs him and come. The sound of his keys opening the door, his scent suddenly overwhelming the air, the image of him walking into the room and telling her “I sensed that you needed me, so I came” – she would give everything to experience this. The image passes vividly through her mind, rewind, replay, repeat. Now she lets her eyes play over several objects lying on the floor around her: a pair of shoes, a small piece of paper with a phone number, an umbrella. Her eyes fix on every object and mechanically scan it:

I bought this umbrella six years ago, in Salzburg, that day when the rain just wouldn’t stop, they only had this green one, now I’m left with an ugly, green umbrella. Is there a way I can think “strongly”, so he can hear me? Let me try right now. I won’t let any other unimportant thoughts confuse me, I will think strongly of his eyes, no I will visualize that I am talking to him – now I am talking to him: hey love, listen, I need you, please come, it’s very important, because I really missed you and I can’t stand your absence any more. What else could I say? What if he doesn’t hear me? What if he’s working today and he cannot come? Someone’s on the stairs, I can hear steps. That’s him, oh god that’s him! I recognize him! Is that him? No those are women’s steps. Damn! She is talking on the phone. Oh well, some people are having fun today. They have the right to have fun. I hope someone finally got the light bulb changed in the stairwell. He told me I should call him if I wanted to see him. I could just have picked up the phone and invited him. He’d come as always, wouldn’t he? But I don’t want it that way. That’s not enough. I want him to sense that I am thinking of him and to come on his own. I need you, please come. Isn’t that a good enough reason: what do I have to do to convince you?

Text: Ina Mar

Adam, Eve and the Forbidden Strawberry

June 30th, 2010

A modern version of the Genesis story with Adam, Eve and the forbidden fruit: Adam tempts Eve to eat the strawberry. She succumbs. Here is a short “make of” video (Music: test/sample by S. Ash). To restart the video, just refresh the post (Video+audio created+recorded on the fly so please excuse the quality…)

Created June 2010.
Technique: Mixed digital and traditional media (photo, photomanipulation, paper collage, scanning of found or discarded material, pencil drawing, digital drawing).

Credits: The male figure is based on a self photo taken by justmeina (model and photographer).

You can buy this artwork on Redbubble or Imagekind – for signed prints, contact me…

New artwork (surREALITIES)

June 17th, 2010

So here it is. I don’t know exactly what it means, I just got this idea and wanted to draw it.

Untitled by Ina Mar
Untitled by Ina Mar, June 2010, square 70x70cm (27.5×27.5in)
mixed media (drawing, photomanipulation, digital painting)

Credits: figure from “Exlibris” by Franz von Bayros; head and body texture taken from Schiele’s self-portrait


June 15th, 2010

I have a new Etsy shop since a couple of days, I offer some fine art prints (signed if you wish). And I already got my first two sales! The prices are intentionally very low, I just feel like sharing my art and need some motivation to keep on going… Please share and retweet – I need more views, I need more feedback. Thank you!

Etsy: Your place to buy & sell all things handmade

Alone with 1704 friends

June 10th, 2010

The ambiguity and irony of the notion of “friendship” in the digital age. Do you ever feel alone, even though hundreds of people are following your daily activities on twitter, facebook and other social networking sites?

The first one makes an allusion to facebook, the second one to Twitter.

Ina Mar - Alone with 1704 friends

Ina Mar - Alone among 1704 followers

I designed this for a competition on the theme Privacy in the Digital Age.

Old Darkness Fills Me With Unbelievable Sadness

April 21st, 2010

Old Darkness Fills Me With Unbelievable Sadness by Ina Mar
Old Darkness Fills Me With Unbelievable Sadness by Ina Mar

Girl haunted by the pain and fear of memories that are not letting her go on. It’s a small step to take, but her feet seem to have grown roots into the ground.

Inspired by a verse by Paul Lobo Portugés:

old darkness
fills me
with unbelievable

Dimensions: 70×70 cm (27.5×27.5 inches)

Technique: mixed media (pencil drawing, digital painting and photomanipulation using multiple textures from my own stock)

Creative procedure:
1. Pencil sketch (see below)
2. Research for drawings by old masters, fitting my idea and lines
3. Mixing my sketch with 6 sketches by old masters (see below, “Sources/Credits”)
4. Digitally repainting / redrawing some parts
5. Adding the text (font taken from book illustration, ca. 1450)
6. Adding structures, colour highlights, refining

– Verse by Paul Lobo Portugés
– Tree drawing by Cesare da Sesto (ca. 1500)
– Arm sketch by Albrecht Dürer (1504)
– Shield holder drawing by Hans Baldung Grien (ca. 1520)
– “Nude squatting man” (self-portrait) by Egon Schiele (1917)
– Skull head taken from “Death and Life” by Gustav Klimt (1911)
– Bird drawing taken from wall mural, Grand Palace, Bangkok

Here is my original pencil sketch (I know I can’t draw!):