A TikToker Freaked Out When He Found a Painting of His Living Room Displayed in a London Gallery. Here’s How It Ended Up There

'They have an oil painting of my living room... this can't be real.'

Mauro C. Martinez, Threshold (2022). Photo courtesy of the artist.

Whatever you post on the internet, it seems, can take on a life of its own. A TikToker going by Hubie found this out when he stumbled upon a painting of his exact living room installed miles away from him in a London gallery.

Last month, Hubie posted a short video on the social media platform sharing his confusion at discovering an oil painting accurately depicting his living quarters—right down to its gaming console, flatscreen TV, and geometric carpet—hanging in Unit London. 

“For some reason, they have an oil painting of my living room,” he said. “But, like, this doesn’t look real; this can’t be real.”

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Apparently mystified, if not a little creeped out, he displayed an actual picture of his living room, which matched the painting exactly—save for one element. “Whoever did it cut off the BTS poster, which is funny,” he said.

Hubie then implored any of his followers who lived near Unit London to head on down to the gallery to “get me a picture or a video to confirm this.” He shared the same message on his Twitter account.

The comments section of TikTok video duly lit up with equally weirded-out messages. “This is INSANE,” wrote kacyhill, while artax_no decided: “This would send me into psychosis.”

But some commenters were swift to fill in the blanks—as will we. The painting was part of a solo exhibition at Unit London featuring the latest series of works by Mauro C. Martinez, a Mexican-American artist whose Instagram bio simply reads, “Painting the internet.”

Martinez, throughout his oeuvre, has indeed been painting the world wide web, capturing in evocative detail and satirical verve memes, Instagram tags, emojis, and other viral images that have defined online culture. 

Mauro C. Martinez, Trust (2022). Photo courtesy of the artist.

His most recent series, “RateMySetup,” has as its muse a subreddit of the same name, on which users post images of their gaming setups or “battle stations.” Martinez has recreated a number of these images, sourced from the forum and other meme accounts, into a set of paintings and sculptures that probe our relationship with the online realm.

“The gaming setups are about the lengths we will go to stay online, and reveal a deep desire for human connection and also allude to the mundanity or even disparity of daily life when compared to online worlds,” he told Artnet News.

Installation view of “RateMySetup” at Unit London. Photo: Marcus Peel, courtesy of the artist.

Martinez, who characterized his research as “doom-scrolling but with more screenshots,” doesn’t remember where he found the photo of Hubie’s gaming setup, but was immediately drawn to it.

“I knew I wanted to paint it,” he said, “because it’s such an accurate reflection of how little it takes to make us happy: a comfy place to sit surrounded by some of the things you love in a space that you can call your own.”

He does not reach out to the owners of these images, stating, “I suppose it just never felt necessary.”

Hubie did not respond to a request for comment and it is not known if he ever posted on r/RateMySetup, the subreddit. However, he did tweet the image of his gaming setup in July 2020, when he first put it together.

Along with it, he gave a shout-out to Walmart where he presumably purchased the camping chair, hand-marked with the letters “DX RACER,” at the center of the frame. (No word, though, on the BTS poster.)

Following Hubie’s TikTok video, Martinez has reached out personally to him via Instagram to offer him a small study of the painting, entitled Threshold, in the hopes that the creator might hang it in his living room and photograph it as part of his setup.

“From there, I thought I could maybe create a new painting based on the new photo and we could just get some sort of fun collaborative project going,” said Martinez, “a sort of generative end to the story.”

Alas, Hubie has not responded.

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