Using an invented formula, which consists of matching each letter of the alphabet to a number, Morales creates and designs machines that are both electrical and organic: cells, nuclei, atoms, etc. This Chilean artist, represented by the gallery since 2014, was the subject of a major exhibition in 2018 at the MAVI (Museo de Arte Visuale) in Santiago de Chile. In 2021, a set of his drawings will be exhibited at the Berlin Biennale. Already present in the abcd/Bruno Decharme (France) and Treger Saint Silvestre (Portugal) collections, his work has been reproduced in several publications.
Óscar Morales Martinez was born into a modest family in 1951 in Copiapó, in northern Chile. His father worked as a driver for the national mining company while his mother raised their six children. Like his brothers, he grew up in the town’s dusty streets, nevertheless completing both primary and high school. From an early age, he showed great interest in literature and the arts.
At the age of 17, Morales served his three-year compulsory military service. When he finished, he began showing the first signs of paranoid schizophrenia. Between 1975 and 1995, he was hospitalized several times in a psychiatric institution before returning to Copiapó. His illness was sufficiently complex for him to be hospitalized there permanently. “It was my last hope of being saved,” he says.
He recalls that while confined to bed, he began to draw “in the sky” of his room. In 1999, Morales developed his famous “alphabetical and numerical valence formula” which he used to create machines and compulsively draw cells, nuclei, atoms and radios, using laptops and drawing on book covers and differently sized sheets of drawing paper. “I wanted to create something noble that would be useful for everyone. This mathematical formula is sophisticated; I invented it to improve and increase computer capacity”, he explains.
In 2018, his work was the subject of a major exhibition at the MAVI (Museo de Arte Visuale) in Santiago de Chile.