by Geoff Wichert
Mirror, Mirror: Artists Reflect on Today’s Figure
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September 2010

Fatima Ronquillo’s quirky, instantly engaging fantasy portraits are small enough to stand on a table, and one was so displayed near the entrance of the Meyer Gallery when we called. It was fascinating to watch visitors respond to it. Ronquillo is self taught, which may explain why instead of gathering specific techniques in isolation, she’s lifted entire manners, which she combines in winning new combinations. Her figures borrow from Latin American magic realists like Fernando Botero, while her backgrounds recall the proto-landscapes of Leonardo and Giorgione. The uniform worn by the girl in “Lucy and Majorette” acquires an unsettling quality as much from resemblance to the pretentious, overly-ornamental uniforms worn by South American dictators as from the presence of this vulnerable, white outfit in a dark, looming forest. Yet most disturbing, because most disturbed, is the serious way this young woman holds in her arms not just a spotted pig, but a winged, spotted pig, cradled in her arms in a way that draws attention to the bright red ring she wears on her index finger. Another gallery visitor rushed up to one of these gems enthusiastically, and then, after closer examination, shuddered and mumbled a quiet demurral. A moment later, after a discussion of some of its references—for example, that ”Viola in Disguise,” with the curly evidence of a self–inflicted haircut still clinging to her borrowed uniform, refers to “Twelfth Night”—her excitement rekindled itself.

In spite of the odd stories they enact in strange circumstances, Ronquillo’s women maintain a feeling of repose…..