Fatima Ronquillo

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Fatima Ronquillo: Spellbound

April 27, 2019 - Kelly Carper

“In painting, I continue to be spellbound by imagery both in the natural world around us and by the magical inner world of emotion and poetry,” says Fatima Ronquillo. The Santa Fe artist’s solo show, Spellbound,opens on May 17thas a celebration of the beloved pictorial themes Ronquillo has revisited over the past decade through her work. These themes are also documented in the publication of her first retrospective book of the same title, which will be available for pre-sale at the exhibition opening. This unique exhibition reflects on Ronquillo’s career thus far with an excited look toward the future, as it features new paintings that touch on each celebrated theme.

“Love, loss and devotion are of course a perennial subject matter and one that I don't believe can be exhausted,” says Ronquillo, who revisits “Mythologies,” “Mad Enchantment,” Flora & Fauna,” “Private Revolution,” “Recuerdos,” and “Devotion” for Spellbound. Ronquillo’s new publication delves into each subject through in-depth essays and lush reproductions of past work. Excerpts from the artist’s essays can be found below, followed by insights into new paintings for the Spellboundexhibition.  

Mythologies:The gods and heroes of classical antiquity may now only be an arcane reference, but the brilliance of mythological story-telling remains alive in my imagination. In particular, Ovid’s Metamorphoses inflames my creativity with its tales of transformation and arbitrary fates….The endurance of the classic Greek myths lie in inescapable human emotions from love’s exaltations to hubris’s fall from grace….

Mad Enchantment: Where else but in art can the improbable and marvelous become real and commonplace? Children (and some very fortunate adults) live in this inner world of mad enchantment. They are the rulers of their very own peaceable kingdoms inhabited by beasts marvelous and strange…

Flora & Fauna: I share the naturalist’s impulse to catalog the flora and fauna of a place, even a place that’s only the terra incognita of my inner world. Perhaps this is a motive born of being an immigrant child landing in a new world, making sense of a romanticized American landscape….Portraits of animals and flowers symbolize how life and love are heartbreakingly brief….

Private Revolution: I first began painting figures in uniform as a nod to early American paintings of patriots in the Revolutionary War. I was initially attracted by the stiff formality of a military uniform and its significance, along with the visual impact of the primary colors blue and red. Since I am not particularly martial in disposition, my invented heroes and revolutionaries evolved into youths and even children embarking on romantic rebellions of one kind or another―against adulthood and the strictures of society―or else engaged in the battles of love...

Recuerdos:Keepsakes, emblems, mementos―or in Spanish, recuerdos―serve as memory clues. In a modern world of disconnectedness, symbolic objects can tether the past with the present….

Devotion: All my life I have painted the faces of saints. In the Philippines my family kept altars decorated with carved wooden or ivorysantos. Today, living in New Mexico, I find similar Catholic iconography in the old adobe churches. These santos, with their ambiguous silent gazes, people my paintings, sometimes re-imagined as cupids, soldiers, and pagan gods, sometimes as martyrs, mystics, and nuns….

Pre-order Spellbound by Fatima Ronquillo on Amazon to read these insightful artist essays in full.

Ronquillo reflects on New Work for Spellbound:

“The figure in "The Betrothed" is in the throes of fervent, hopeful love. In contrast in "The Happy Few: Youth with Black-footed Ferrets," happiness is fleeting and irrevocable loss probable if one thinks of the precarious fate of the endangered creatures. Nature, with its ephemeral beauty and savagery continues to preoccupy these canvases full of flora and fauna. An "Archangel with Nile Monitor Lizard" displays a reptilian demon, for I've read that the reptiles are sometimes an invasive species wreaking havoc with the natives of Florida. "Hand with Ode to Martin Johnson Heade," replete with hummingbirds and passion flowers is a nostalgic meditation on the beauty and variety of nature as depicted by the 19th Century naturalist painter. In painting I continue to be spellbound by imagery both in the natural world around us and by the magical inner world of emotion and poetry.“

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