Fluoro-pop: The art of Rowena Martinich

By Liz Banks-Anderson Rowena-Martinich-portrait-1

You’ve probably walked past one and the sight has demanded a second glance. Rowena Martinich describes her art works as “fluoro-pop abstract expressionism.” Visually, they are vibrant, striking and bright and are a welcome sight in the tedium of a grey Melbourne Winter.

Rowena is an artist whose use of colour in the transient, everyday space has become a signature. Her work is often displayed in the spaces of the everyday to challenge the notion that ‘art’ can only exist within the conventional gallery space.

The everyday settings of Rowena’s works add to their immersive nature, capturing all of your attention.

Martinich calls herself ‘an abstract expressionist with a difference.’ While her work is sometimes displayed in an art gallery she is more likely to transform through her use of colour an unconventional display space such as a retail store front.

Rowena says the idea of displaying artwork strictly within the gallery system is very limiting both for the audience and the artist. Instead, she is inspired by architecture and interiors, which strongly influence her artwork and how it can fit into that scenario.

“I feel that art should be accessible and enriching, so making it public is the first step. I also love the idea of transforming people’s experience of a space simply by adding expressive layers of colour,” she says.

Rowena believes that everyday spaces are often not given a second glance until an ‘intervention’ of some kind, viewing her artwork as an “activator of urban space, particularly transient spaces, often passed through without a moment of thought.”

“Through my work one can experience the everyday, but differently. What may ordinarily be an empty interval  – a non-experience in passing from one place to another – can be altered by the experience of walking through or past one of my works,” says Rowena.

There is something very free, fluid and natural about Rowena’s work. It captures a boundless creative energy. The artist processes a myriad of thoughts during the creative process. 

"When I am deeply focused on a work, I am in my own world of problem solving, specifically balancing the painting, its layers and colour compositions.”

Rowena works with acrylic on canvas, colour-fast acrylic for exterior public works and acrylic on vinyl adhered onto glass for window installations.

“Most of my painting is done with large brushes these days, however I have been known to use mops and brooms to create extra large brush strokes on public works, as well as chemical sprayers for a splattery effect.

“I build up layers of colours, starting with large areas of block colour then gradually add layers of dripping colour. With each layer I need to be sure that the one below is dry enough that the colours will not mix. I also ensure the paint retains the perfect consistency so it doesn’t run too quickly, or isn't too thick that it won’t run at all. I also try and take regular breaks in the fresh air!” she says.

Rowena has bold hopes and dreams for the future and these inspire her to create. Key among these include painting a trackside marquee for the Melbourne Racing Carnival and a fashion collaboration comprising beachwear and surfboards.

Most of all however, the acknowledgement of her work is her greatest inspiration. Rowena says she loves how art allows her to interact with the public, especially when working onsite on murals. 

“Even without a shared language, I have found that art can enable exchange and break down any cross-cultural barriers.”


Liz is a communications professional and freelance writer from Melbourne. Inspired by the city’s artistic endeavours she likes taking photographs, exploring the design world and has developed a great interest in all things art. Passionate about documenting and sharing the unique projects, people and possibilities in the creative community, Liz is excited by what lies ahead. Liz’s own blog will be launched soon…In the meantime, she’s happy being a twit.