(The Reflections of Self, 2022)
CICA Vancouver is pleased to announce Dominican-born artist Tania Marmolejo’s first solo exhibition in Canada, opening from September 1st to October 1st, 2022. On view at the Centre of International Contemporary Art are 14 pieces of new paintings inspired by the artist’s personal experience in Vancouver and the surrounding wilderness of the lower mainland. The large-scale portraits of women within coastal landscapes provokes contemplation and resonance with the characters’ expansive and nuanced facial expression. The enigmatic eyes of her characters lead viewers into a labyrinth of familiarity and unfamiliarity, making us yearn to delve into the stories of the imagined characters she creates.
Exploring the delicate, complex, and sometimes hidden emotions of women is like navigating through a forest; The deep and intricate expression is influenced, if not confined, by the sociocultural system. Women are often expected to hide their sensitivity and internalize negative emotions such as sadness and anxiety. Marmolejo has captured the subtlety in these emotions and created fascinating illustrations of their micro-expressions. The artist frees her characters by allowing them to direct her brushes, resulting in an unexpected and compelling image on the canvas. The flood of genuine emotions brings them to life and connects with the audience.
“My current work juxtaposes the intimate and personal with the monumental, creating large-scale paintings of ambiguous female facial expressions. I am currently exploring issues of gender and identity as a Scandinavian Caribbean female artist, using the portraits and physical expression as a system of communicating vessels to transfer emotions into the viewers creating affective and emotional empathy.”
Marmolejo grounds her expressive figures in the wildness of fluid landscapes. Her characters peek out from behind trees, emerging and exploring their environment while simultaneously beckoning the viewer through their wide-eyed stares. Upon viewing, one is invited into the internal landscape of the painting, and deeper yet into the landscape of self, a wildness of emotion hiding just below the surface. Marmolejo has always been deeply inspired by her surrounding environment, often incorporating the lush foliage of the Dominican Republic into her paintings. Through her experiences in Vancouver, she has come to see the intrinsic connection between the coastal landscape and the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh people upon whose unceded territories Vancouver is now situated.
Her experience with Vancouver has caused her to reflect upon the lack of ongoing Indigenous representation in her home country which was colonized by Christopher Columbus in the late 15th and early 16th centuries leading to the destruction of the Indigenous Taino people and their culture. Marmolejo recalls feeling a deep sense of reverence for the Coast Salish artists whose work she saw while encountering the Indigenous Fashion Week held in Vancouver. With a history in fashion illustration, she uses her understanding of fashion as a non-verbal expression of identity and emotion within her paintings. She has used this as a jumping-off point to acknowledge and reflect the significance of the Indigenous communities whose land she loves and respects.
About the Artist
Tania Marmolejo was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (1975). Influenced by her Scandinavian and Caribbean heritage, she studied Graphic Design and Illustration in Norway, before returning to the Dominican Republic to study Fine Arts at the Altos de Chavón School of Design. In 1998 she received the Bluhdorn Scholarship, and continued her studies at Parsons The New School for Design in New York, graduating with a degree in Fine Arts and Illustration.
Marmolejo began her artistic career as an illustrator for the fashion and lifestyle sections of Obsidiana magazine (New York). During these years, she designed characters and backgrounds for MTV, PBS, Hyperion/Disney, and Scholastic Books among others, as part of the Data Motion Arts studios animation team, receiving various ASIFA and CINE awards. In 2005 she joined the group of artists at MadArts Studios in Brooklyn, NY, and District and Co. Gallery in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, where she participated in several group exhibitions, focusing entirely on the development of her artistic career along with design. Since then, her work has been exhibited in numerous collective national and international exhibitions, and several Iberoamerican Art Salons in Washington DC, representing the Dominican Republic.
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