Modern art just got juicy. BOOM caught up with artist Marta Grossi to discuss her latest range of art, Banana Graffiti. Her simple iPhone snaps of personalized bananas have led to international attention and exhibitions across Asia, including collaborations with fashion giants. Pedder Red featured a display of her bananas at the launch of their Spring Summer collection last week. We chat about how it all began, the importance of preserving art, and most importantly: why bananas?
First question on anyone’s mind: Why bananas?
I thought bananas because I always have one or two in my bag. They’re cheap, organic and easy to find almost everywhere.
Also I really love bananas.
What’s the longest it’s taken to graffiti a banana?
I think I spent maximum two hours and half for the most detailed Banana Graffiti. The minimum time is 3 minutes.
Do you do it every single night?
In the past 3-4 months I did it almost every night, yes.
Have you met others who graffiti fruit? Did you get the inspiration from anyone?
I never met anyone doing the same kind of art. When I started Banana Graffiti I just followed my instinct. After Banana Graffiti became popular I did some research and found that there are some artists using oxidation of the banana to create images,
which is a completely different concept and style. I was so happy to receive compliments from some of them.
How has Hong Kong inspired you?
Hong Kong was my main inspiration for Banana Graffiti – I had the first idea almost three years ago. You know how the weather here is hot and humid most of the time? I started to eat two bananas a day and I used to take a lot of them to the office. One day at the wet market I saw bananas written on with red marker, to indicate the price,
and when I went back to the office I started to write my colleague’s name or make little illustrations to customize my own bananas. The real concept only developed four months ago though.
You said, on DesignBoom, “bananas act as temporary spaces”. How important do you think it is for art to be preserved?
Yes, for this project the skin of a banana is my temporary canvas. I always designed or created art with long lasting supports, and this time was my intention to choose something with a very short life.
The key message of my full project is:
“Every banana has a simple and unique canvas,
and every banana is different.
This is an open experiment based
on a very cheap and ordinary support.
I customize my banana during the night.
I have my banana for breakfast the day after.
This is a temporary space and love to prove
that inspiration is everywhere”
I don’t need money to be creative, and it’s not a problem if my canvas only lasts for a couple of days. If I spend two hours painting on something will be gone the same day: the memory will stay through a photo. By creating something temporary I live in the moment – you enjoy something more if you can’t keep it.
What do you think of tattoos?
I love tattoos if they represent something for me. I have three.
The first one I did by myself with needle and ink when I was 14 years old. A great Traditional Bamboo Tattoo Artist, here in Hong Kong, did the other two.
I drew one of them for almost two years with a black pen on my arm, in the same place I actually got the tattoo done.
What seduced you into art?
It’s a visceral relationship; a sort of energy I have to release from my body. If I leave it there I feel bad, mentally and physically. I’m born like this. Weird things and little defects, which aren’t important for other people, inspire me. I feel honored and privileged to communicate with this powerful medium, to inspire and be inspired,
to change the perspective of how you can see a thing, even if it’s just a little bit. I can’t imagine my life without art.
Have you got any ideas in mind for what sort of art you might create in the long run?
I don’t know what will be next. I never expected attention from all over the world, a collaboration + two exhibitions with Pedder Red in Hong Kong and Singapore, all from a simple personal experiment with a fruit! Everything has happened in less than 4 months.
I follow my heart and my many inspirations and I try to express myself, share with others, and tell a story. This is what I’ve always done and what I love.
More information about Marta can be found [here]