Carlos Mare


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Currently living in New York, Carlos Mare spent his younger days between Spanish Harlem and South Bronx neighborhoods of New York City where he was exposed to a range of works in the early periods of graffiti.

He began “writing” after seeing a subway train painted by the legendary Lee Quinoñes in 1976. He executed his first graffiti-style writing in the bathroom of his school and began writing in his neighborhood and on trains shortly thereafter.

According to Mare, who was raised in an impoverished, aggressive, and marginalized part of the city, graffiti was a primitive urge to leave behind a sign of one’s own, a form of social expression that lends visibility to others like you. Writing alongside names such as Kel First and Dondi White in the golden age of “subway graffiti,” the artist’s original moniker was “Nigh Mare 139.” Such double-name monikers were a sign of the early 1970s; “Stay High 149”, for example, is among the most famous examples of this. Mare; however, later shortened his name to “Mare 139” in order to be able to advance in Style Writing.

Employing a traditional style in his early years, the artist experimented with different media and surfaces over the years, signaling his affinity with fine arts. He began working on sculptures in 1985. Inspired by Cubism and Futurism, the metal sculptures he created by transforming letters into abstract formats that peel and fold from walls into space became his signature style.

The artist is currently inspired by Islamic art, calligraphy, and architecture. His visits to İstanbul and Morocco in recent years, particularly the city of Marrakesh, Sultanahmet Mosque, and the Hagia Sophia in İstanbul had an impact on the artist in terms of historic-artistic references and aesthetic forms.


Carlos Mare, left to right:

Carlos Mare, left to right: “Open Letter to David Smith”, “Winds of Whirling Dervish”, “Turkish Opus”.

Click for more information on the Language of the Wall: Graffiti / Street Art exhibition.

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