May 18, 2023
Orietta Ibarrondo Gelardin

VILLAZAN is pleased to present the solo exhibition titled “Under the influence” featuring an enfilade of new paintings by the internationally-acclaimed contemporary artist Tania Marmolejo. Her exhibition will be on view at VILLAZAN through June 6, 2023.

We had the pleasure of conversing with a one-of-a-kind artist, Tania Marmolejo. We talked about her work and how it juxtaposes the intimate and personal with the monumental. As a Scandinavian-Caribbean female artist, she also explores issues of gender and identity, using portraiture and physical expression as a means of conveying emotions.

Tania Marmolejo posing in front of Encuentro entre Naranjos

What were your main influences when creating your artworks for this show at Villazan?

The main influence was Spain, and the different aspects of it’s culture and life that produce passionate responses. In this case, I focused on the yearning, anxious faces of the virgins and madonnas of the Pasos tradition, the darker, moody portraits of the populist painting traditions of the 19th century, the passion of flamenco, the freshness of the orange trees on the streets of Seville, gorgeous sunsets in Andalucía and Asturias… so many things!

What does Spain mean to you?

Spain is a constant muse, and a second home. I have felt very at home in it’s traditions and the warmth of its people, and its culture and history constantly produce inspiration for my paintings.

(on the left) La Vecina, 2023 (on the right) Encaje Negro, 2023

We have seen that a recurrent theme in your works are the large eyes? What are you trying to portray to the viewer?

The large eyes began when I was a character designer for animation long ago, but they continued as I painted and tried to convey emotion.

They are vessels that transfer emotion to the viewer.

Los Anhelos de Rocío, 2023

Why do you only depict females? What are you hoping to achieve in these representations of female portraiture?

I depict females because my paintings are very personal, they try to show a female side of life, a female gaze. They were also a reaction to the comments 'female art does not sell', that I heard when trying to exhibit my works years ago. The female characters are rebellious, showing that the female point of view is just as important and relevant.

Can you walk us through your creative process and approach to a new piece?

I do not sketch before starting a piece, I draw directly on the canvas (with paint), so it is a completely spontaneous process. I rarely know what the final painting will look like, and often change it and the narrative behind it, as I go along.

Julieta y el Gatito, 2023

How has your painting progressed through the years?

I suppose the paintings have gotten tighter, more styled. It isn’t a conscious process, but they have become more instinctive and simple, as I trust my process more.

Who are your main artistic influences? Name your three favourite artists

More than artists, movements inspire me. The Baroque and Renaissance movements for example- with their attention to technique and lighting, the German Expressionists with their focus on pure emotion, many times the darker side. Kathe Kollwitz, with her female gaze in this movement inspires me, as do the female Surrealists, such as Leonora Carrington and Leonor Fini, Remedios Varo among others. They were the real badasses of that movement, even though the men became the most famous.

Tania Marmolejo's Picasso Inspired Corner

Which is your favourite time of the date to be at the studio?

Mornings for sure, with the bright light from the windows.

What is your dream project as an artist?

I am living that dream right now; to travel and show my works in different countries and meet the wonderful gallery teams and collectors, to discover somethting new and find inspiration in every trip- to see how my art communicates across cultures….I am living my dream!

Tarde Estrellada en Bolonia, 2023