Surreal in the City – Martycultural Art

It is a narrow mind which cannot look at a subject from various points of view.

George Eliot – Middlemarch

There are few things I enjoy more than strolling along the Victoria Inner Harbour on a beautiful day. On the landward side, the Empress Hotel and the Parliament Buildings. On the harbour side, elegant sailboats on the marina and the bay. Tourists, locals, protesters, and artists all comingled in between.

It was on one of these walks that I first met Martin Machacek and immediately fell in love with his paintings. I had a shoestring budget on this trip, but before I could reach the other end of the harbour I knew I wasn’t leaving without one. I now own 5 of his 8 x 10″ wood block prints. He stopped doing the wood blocks a few years ago, but continues to sell various sized prints and his originals on his website,

Woodblock print of the Empress Hotel by Martin Machacek

Marty shared with me that he spent many years as an architectural draftsman to pay the bills and painted on the side. He claimed his unique perspective came from growing tired of drawing straight lines in his day job, but still having a love of architecture. Thus his unique style of taking real life with a twist.

The real life Empress Hotel on the Inner Harbour.

On that first day, I chose a print of the old Glenlyon-Norfolk building in Oak Bay. I used to pass this private school nearly every day on the bus from the UVIC campus to my job in downtown Victoria, and it brought back pleasant memories of my uni days. As we chatted, I told Marty that I loved the symbolism to me – that the view was recognizable if slightly distorted, just as memories tend to be. Our perspective changes over time. (Unfortunately the Glenlyon-Norfolk painting is in my office at work, which is off limits for the moment due to Covid restrictions. The three shown here are hung in my living room).

On return trips I added to my “memories” collection, with block prints of Fisherman’s Wharf, the Parliament Buildings, and Roger’s Chocolates on Government Street.

Parliament Buildings, Victoria BC by Martin Machacek
Roger’s Chocolates, Government Street by Martin Machacek

Martin was born and raised in the Czech Republic, lived in Calgary, and travelled extensively worldwide, providing a wide array of architectural paintings of buildings and landmarks throughout Canada and Europe. He also has an interest in cars, planes, and ships, giving them the same signature twist. His website prohibits sharing of content, so please visit his site to view:

His work has also been featured in a number of murals, including the 2013 Canada Summer Games mural in Sherbrooke, QC. His panel is brilliant painting of the bronze medal Women’s cycling team from the 2012 games. The full mural can be seen in person at 21 rue Wellington Sud, Sherbrooke, Quebec, or at the website

I don’t think Marty sets up on Victoria Harbour any more – the last time I saw him there was a few years ago and he was planning on spending some time travelling and focusing on cycling. But he does have an online store, where (as of this writing) his 8 x 10″ photographic prints are just $30 (plus taxes, shipping, etc. – subject to change of course). These are a great buy. His store also has some limited edition giclee prints and a few originals. I have my eyes on the limited edition of the HMCS Protecteur…where’s my credit card at?

Note – all photographs are owned and taken by Michelle Graf

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