Duality in the Work of Tania Marmolejo

Patrick Landry (El Caribe) reviews Tania Marmolejo’s work.

Tania Marmolejo’s work is an invitation to enter the artist’s world just as when we read a book by Franz Kafka.

The universe that each one describes captures the spirit of the person who has the luxury of being carried away by the work. Writer and painter share the same sense of establishing the psychological element in the scene, which plays an important role. It is true that, facing the silhouettes that populate the world of her paintings, the viewer is drawn not only by the faces but also by the landscapes.

As we enter the space, two large eyes stare at us. Everything seems obvious and nothing is. Tania’s work rests on an ambivalence. Everything is very accurate and it is not. The line is too refined and it is not. The palette seems reduced to some colors but it is not.

Landscapes: the engine of attraction

I think that in the case of Tania Marmolejo, it is the landscapes that constitute the motor of the attraction because the visitors, in front of the persistent gazes of her nymphs, unconsciously shift their view around them. But what people are going to find are mentally created landscapes, reflections of the double culture of the Dominican-Swedish artist. In all the works, the style is very refined without narrative details. There is a metaphysical presence of the landscape much like we can see it in the work of Giorgio de Chirico.

The essence of the elements makes them speak for themselves. Nature becomes something that transcends the elements that compose it, not only through the few elements that make up the landscape but also through a use of color in a direct reference to Edward Munch, expressionism, and her other origin as a Swedish woman. The splashes of color vibrate with great intensity, much like the bodies in Munch’s work.

To which world do her nymphs belong?

There is a physical presence of imposing bodies placed in front of the background, as in Fernando Botero’s work, a kind of rigging of figures on a stage. The figures seem to belong to the landscape and at the same time not. It is a peculiarity of Tania’s work that covers her works with a mysterious veil. Everything is necessary to build human silhouettes so present that they are not there. They belong to another space, not really that of the painting, never really that of the spectator, but a third in which they are physically present, but not psychologically. They stand out from the canvas of the painting to travel to their inner world.

To further detach the silhouettes, she uses long and thin areas of colors that create very evident undulations, a reference to the work of Wayne Thiebaud; in contrast, the faces are smooth, with imperceptible brushstrokes, a very delicate treatment with the subtlety of the incarnations that highlight the anatomy, everything culminates in the face where the mouth, nose and eyes receive a stylization that characterizes her nymphs, while not personalizing them. If it is true that in some of them a self-portrait may be discerned, in the vast majority, it is an idealization of the female silhouette as we can see, for example, in Greek statues. It should be noted that the refined aspect of her work as a colorist is a legacy of her work as an illustrator. [. . .]

Excerpts translated by Ivette Romero. For the original article (in Spanish), see https://www.elcaribe.com.do/gente/a-y-e/dualidad-de-la-obra-de-tania-marmolejo/

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