“There is a mad enchantment that possess the heart and mind when confronted by the possibilities glimpsed through visions of beauty and love…”
Santa Fe artist Fatima Ronquillo has created a body of work that is inspired by a feeling of intoxicating adoration. Her cherub-like subjects participate in situations of blind love set during springtime’s fleeting beauty. This ephemeral world that Ronquillo creates is filled with mythological subjects, blossoming flora and an enthralling innocence that is at once whimsical and nostalgic. The artist’s rich inspirations are derived from opera, literature and art history, allowing the viewer to marvel at Ronquillo’s classical techniques through a modern lens. “Painting in an Old Master’s style is difficult and engaging,” says the artist of her process. “I’ve been painting all these years and yet everyday I learn something new.”
Ronquillo was born in the Philippines in 1976 and emigrated to the United States at ten years old when her family moved to San Antonio. A self-taught artist, Ronquillo’s interest in art history and works of the past began when she was a child and continue to inform her painting style. Love, requited or unrequited, is a recurring theme in Ronquillo’s art and is portrayed through classical symbolism and magical realism. One symbol that is commonly found in Ronquillo’s work is the Lover’s Eye, a sentimental adornment that became popular in the 1700s with affluent families. Miniature paintings were commissioned to depict the eye of a loved one and were worn as a brooch or pendant with a decorated frame. Lover’s Eyes show up in Ronquillo’s paintings as reinterpreted historical references and symbols of infatuation. Another common symbol in Ronquillo’s work is the blindfold, which is often translucent to refer to the idea that while love is blind, it comes with an unapologetic awareness. The young cupid in “Blind Love” bears both symbols as he holds a Lover’s Eye close to his heart while gazing intently at the viewer through a sheer blindfold. Ronquillo laughs at this mischievous character in her painting. “He knows exactly what he’s doing,” she jokes.
Ronquillo’s lyrical paintings charm us with their innocence while drawing us into wistfully romantic narratives. Join us for the opening reception of “Mad Enchantment” on Friday, September 15th from 5-7pm.
– Kelly Skeen