Fatima Ronquillo - "Together"
Fatima Ronquillo - "Together"
Fatima Ronquillo’s new series of oil paintings for her solo exhibition, “Together,” contemplate warring feelings of love and grief, loss and hope. The Santa Fe artist, whose imagery is typically joyful and light as childlike figures act out love stories from mythology, literature or theater, struggled to find solace in her subjects this year in the midst of a global pandemic and societal unrest.
“The realities of the coronavirus pandemic hit home in March just as I was beginning a new body of work,” she states. “Suddenly the paintings that had been germinating in my mind were arrested in thought, evolving as rapidly as the collective emotions all around me. Shall I continue to paint love and joy when there is so much sorrow and panic? I found myself unable to grasp at one coherent voice from the disparate images rising into my heart and mind.”
It was from this internal struggle that Ronquillo’s first painting for the exhibition emerged, inspiring the show’s title and overall theme. “Together” is an image of two clasped hands before a landscape, fingers entwined as green vines with fresh purple blooms circle around. Two birds are perched on top, which brought the words of Emily Dickinson to the artist’s mind: “Hope” is the thing with feathers - That perches in the soul - And sings the tune without the words - And never stops - at all…
“This little painting is central to this new series…like a new beginning rising from darkness,” says Ronquillo. This piece led to more paintings of hands – clasped, intertwined, or emerging, all with the embedded feeling of hope through the words of Emily Dickinson. Poetry is a steady influence for Ronquillo’s paintings, and is the driving inspiration behind her new lithograph, which will be released for this show. “The First Jasmines” is inspired by a poem of the same name written by Rabindranath Tagore, whose words romanticize the jasmine flower as it came to symbolize different stages of the writer’s life from childhood to old age. The lithograph, which features a young African American child adorned with jasmine flowers, was printed with Landfall Press on an antique printing press from Paris and is a limited edition of 30.
“It is such an honor to have been given the chance to collaborate with this legendary print shop,” says Ronquillo. “Landfall Press has just celebrated 50 years of printmaking and publishing prints by so many artists whom I admire such as Claes Oldenburg, Sol LeWitt, David Ligare, Kara Walker, Leslie Dill and Judy Chicago to name but a few. I am so honored to be a part of it. “The First Jasmines” print was run on an antique press from the 1860s, the Marinoni Voirin. It is an impressive piece of machinery that was converted to electrical power from steam power having made its way from Paris to Santa Fe. My work has always referenced the art of the past and I find it romantic and fitting that this print was made on the Voirin.”
Integration with nature, such as in “The First Jasmines,” is present throughout the show, bringing layers of meaning to the exhibition’s theme while also alluding to current events and the artist’s own emotional response. See more work on our website and join us for an interview with the artist on Friday, December 4th on Instagram live.