The Miles Davis Online Interview: Jose Mardi

(Artist Series Volume 18)

I cannot say I know much about collage art. But after viewing the delightful work of Jose Mardi, I definitely want to know more, see more. And there is no better place to start enjoying sensational collage artwork than on Mardi’s Flickr page, which features dozens and dozens of brilliant, jazz and soul inspired collage art.

The three Miles Davis collages, one above and one below, are excellent, which is an obvious declaration. But to explore Mardi’s unique artistry is quite exciting, like a visual jolt to the eyes and mind. Each collage is a cool assemblage of colors and photos, words and designs.

The many collage designs are downright inspiring. After awhile I get the impulse to start experimenting with this technique of visual art. But for now I will leave the collage art to talented professionals like Jose Mardi. Based in Valencia, Spain, the artist was so kind recently to chat with me about his craft, inspiration, and Miles Davis.

Miles Davis Online: How would you describe the ‘style’ of your artwork?
Jose Mardi: I work with the technique of collage, freestyle. I use paper, scissors, cutter and glue. No computer, no scan, or anything that has to do with digital manipulation. Jazz images from the 20s to 60s inspire me, photography and album covers and teachers who created an iconography for life. My collages can be understood as a tribute to them. With all the respect I have for their work.

Miles Davis Online: Why Miles Davis?
Jose Mardi: I use lots of different artists. But with Miles it’s impossible not to admit his image is iconic, his work is the work of life surrounding jazz. It is for any jazz lover a starting point, a continuity or change, a lot different things that inspire us and make us better people.

For my work, any of his classic photos could make me sit for hours composing new images, new perspectives that are often nonsensical – and new ways of understanding music.

Miles Davis Online: You feature so many wonderful musicians – and plenty of jazz artists. Would you say there is something unique about jazz musicians that make them such compelling subjects for your artwork?
Jose Mardi: Although what I said about Miles Davis is special, it could be about other musicians. Images taken by William Claxton and Herman Leonard, the designs of Reid Miles, or Steinweiss, among many others, are so faithful to what the music represents, sometimes I’m scared to manipulate their work. But my love of jazz helps and motivates me.

I like the spontaneity of the work. Not everything has to be perfect.

Miles Davis Online: Are you working on anything special at the moment?
Jose Mardi: Every day I think of joining pieces of paper to create some new jazz collage that someone might like. I am currently working on a series of collages around the blues.

Miles Davis Online: Obviously music plays a large role in your work. Can you talk about your musical influences and how they have impacted your work as an artist?
Jose Mardi: I’m a big music fan. Mainly, during the last two decades, Afro-American roots music. Blues, jazz and soul and their younger siblings. The music has inspired me to live and grow. Last year I closed my record store where I worked for eleven years – but I am still part of the business of music.

For my collage work I decided to start with the images of jazz because it is the most likely offered to me. In my daily life, including my work on collages, a lot of big names and much less known musicians helped build my work. Lee Morgan, Coltrane, Eddie Jefferson, Art Blakey, Tyrone Washington, Carmell Jones, Lorez Alexandria… it’s impossible to name only a few. Not too mention soul music, of which I have real passion.

Miles Davis Online: Will you revisit Miles Davis again?
Jose Mardi: Definitely, yes. I have only to find good images to use.

Miles Davis Online: Favorite Miles Davis album?
Jose Mardi: Difficult question. I like his Blue Note, Columbia or Prestige records, but one reference still to me is “Birth of the Cool” on Capitol.

* You can see more of Jose Mardi’s artwork on Flickr.

Artwork is © Jose Mardi


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