2019 Texas Book Festival

My book Spellbound is one of the selections for the 2019 Texas Book Festival, one of the largest and prestigious literary festivals in the country. Please join me at The Contemporary Austin – Jones Center as I speak and converse about the book and my paintings on Saturday, October 26, from 12:00 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. followed by a book signing from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. I very much look forward to meeting you at the festival. If you are unable to attend the festival but wish to purchase a signed copy of Spellbound you may obtain a copy from the official festival bookseller, Bookpeople, or from the Meyer Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Spellbound is also available wherever books are sold.

The 24th annual Texas Book Festival will be held October 26-27, 2019. The Festival runs from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Sunday. The Texas Book Festival Weekend is free and open to the public and takes place in Austin, Texas, at the State Capitol and surrounding grounds. Please visit the festival website at texasbookfestival.org for more information on attending the festival, book sales and book signing, and event schedule. There are 300+ authors at the event including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, John Grisham, Alexander McCall-Smith, Malcolm Gladwell and Pulitzer finalist Susan Choi.

Spellbound has been a labor of love of nearly two years. It is a collection of nearly 200 of my most beloved paintings from 2008-2018 along with essays on recurring themes and inspirations and my journey as an artist. It is published by the Unicorn Publishing Group from the United Kingdom.

Spellbound is the first book-length retrospective of Fatima Ronquillo, a self-taught painter who was born in the Philippines, came of age in San Antonio, and resides in Santa Fe. The Spanish and American colonial histories of these three places—and the uneasy blend of cultures that resulted there—is a subtle presence in Ronquillo’s work, where Old World techniques rub elbows with tropes drawn from Latin American magical realism. The world of Spellbound is one that marries traditional portraiture with a subversive sense of drama and playfulness. Ronquillo’s stately subjects gaze out with a regal or military bearing while angels and animals flit mischievously around the margins. Dogs wear their master’s tearful eyeballs as collar jewelry, cherubic boys clutch writhing snakes in their fists, and nuns adorn their habits with ungainly floral towers and spritely jungle monkeys.

Spellbound contains more than one hundred eighty color images of Ronquillo’s lush and deadpan oil paintings, the studies and sketches for several other works, and an introduction from noted arts writer John O’Hern.

from Unicorn Publishing

I am so honored to be a part of the festival not only as an author but as a past official artist for the 20th Anniversary of the festival in 2015.

Pre-order “Spellbound”

Fatima Ronquillo’s debut book Spellbound is now available for pre-order on Amazon, Unicorn Publishing Group and University of Chicago Press

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Spellbound is the first survey of the self-taught artist’s paintings. Over the past decade, Fatima Ronquillo has created a personal modern aesthetic by combining European old master techniques with a magical realism found in Early American Colonial and Latin American Art. Ronquillo presents an imagined world of personages in military or exotic costumes who confront viewers with an ambiguous gaze. These figures are often accompanied by mischievous cupids dressed as Mozartian pages or wild animals which are either spirit guides or inner demons. Often they are shown with mementos or ‘recuerdos’ such as the lover’s eye jewelry to demonstrate one of the many stages of love, from the bliss of the requited to the despair of the rejected. Alongside the recurring theme of love, lush flora and mysterious fauna offer a glimpse into a world of myth and theatre. These compositions marry traditional portraiture, often Set against pastoral and idyllic landscapes, with an underlying sense of drama and playfulness. Ronquillo’s paintings are visions of beauty and love which incite a mad enchantment to the heart and mind.

~ Unicorn Publishing Group

RedMilk Meets Fatima Ronquillo

Thank you very much to Chiara Manzoni and RedMilk Magazine, the fashion and culture magazine based in Milan, Italy for a wonderful interview.

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Interview by Chiara Manzoni in RedMilkMagazine on February 1, 2018

JEWELRY OR PAINTINGS? DISCOVER THE WORLD OF FATIMA IN THE EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW.

What is the relationship that you create with your works?

I always wish to create a sense of nostalgia… not necessarily about the historical past but of some memory evocative of personal romance or story specific to the individual looking at my paintings.

How do you choose the main subjects?

My subjects are often directly inspired by art history, books, poetry or opera. For example, I love Mozart’s operas so you often see Mozartian pages like Cherubino, my quintessential aspiring lover. Lately I have been reading about birds and they started appearing more and more, from songbirds to birds of prey.

In your paintings you express love and loss. Do you want to talk about these aspects?

Yes, we return back to that sense of nostalgia that may be an underlying thread in all my works. We’re all looking for an eternal love, and that longing implies an eventual loss.

You’re born in Philippines, do you transport your origins on your artworks?

Not specifically. However my figures have often been described as possessing a feeling of isolation. I came to the United States as a child and I admit that I’ve never fully lost that sense of uprooted loneliness that comes from having left the place of one’s birth and loved ones.

What are the concepts of “mystery” and “imagination”?

Mystery and imagination are the magic brought about by inspiration. It’s something I cannot force into being, but rather a gift by the muses.

There is a perceptible symbolism in your work, for example the eye. How do you take on this concept in your view?

I sprinkle symbolism throughout my works for additional layers of meaning and story to a viewer. Flowers and animals have symbolic and mythical associations and lend a narrative content. Sometimes it is quite literal as in an arrow-pierced wound symbolizing heartache.

Your art bring to the Mexican and Spanish Colonial art, but with a magical and romantic vision. What do you think about that?

One of my first memories as a child is the family altar of ‘santos’. In a way my paintings are reminiscent of those child like figures of saints with ivory heads. I also have lived in places with strong traditions of Hispanic art, first in the Philippines, San Antonio, Texas and now in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Is there any aspect of you that you’ve put in your paintings?

It is probably the “ambiguous gaze” in the eyes of my figures. I gaze at the figure, it gazes back at me, and it is perhaps that wonderment in the eyes that I hope is full of the emotions I feel when I create.

If we want find you in one of your creations, what would be and why?

“The Novice with Dog and Sweet Peas” … it is a painting of a nun with a little dog. I love it because it is a “devotional” painting of someone professing their vocation. And painting for myself is a devotion and a vocation. However I tend not to take myself all that seriously, hence the presence of the funny little dog.

“The lover’s eye”: what is emotion for you?

The lover’s eye paintings are all about love naturally. Someone secret or long gone. It is also a pictorial conceit of a portrait within a portrait. And perhaps a third eye, like a silent witness.

How do you feel when you are creating?

Mostly nervous. Sometimes excited.

Tell to us about your collaboration with A Magazine Curated by Alessandro Michele

Alessandro Michele is an extraordinary talent and visionary. After learning that he liked my work and found it an inspiration I was completely amazed and honored. So when Dan Thawley of A Magazine Curated By contacted me about contributing to the issue, my answer was an immediate “yes!”. In turn, I was inspired by Alessandro Michele and I ran with his “Blind for Love” theme and his coral snake has made it slowly into my paintings. It’s splendidly romantic imagery.

What is the relationship that you create with your works?

I always wish to create a sense of nostalgia… not necessarily about the historical past but of some memory evocative of personal romance or story specific to the individual looking at my paintings.

How do you choose the main subjects?

My subjects are often directly inspired by art history, books, poetry or opera. For example, I love Mozart’s operas so you often see Mozartian pages like Cherubino, my quintessential aspiring lover. Lately I have been reading about birds and they started appearing more and more, from songbirds to birds of prey.

In your paintings you express love and loss. Do you want to talk about these aspects?

Yes, we return back to that sense of nostalgia that may be an underlying thread in all my works. We’re all looking for an eternal love, and that longing implies an eventual loss.

You’re born in Philippines, do you transport your origins on your artworks?

Not specifically. However my figures have often been described as possessing a feeling of isolation. I came to the United States as a child and I admit that I’ve never fully lost that sense of uprooted loneliness that comes from having left the place of one’s birth and loved ones.

What are the concepts of “mystery” and “imagination”?

Mystery and imagination are the magic brought about by inspiration. It’s something I cannot force into being, but rather a gift by the muses.

There is a perceptible symbolism in your work, for example the eye. How do you take on this concept in your view?

I sprinkle symbolism throughout my works for additional layers of meaning and story to a viewer. Flowers and animals have symbolic and mythical associations and lend a narrative content. Sometimes it is quite literal as in an arrow-pierced wound symbolizing heartache.

Your art bring to the Mexican and Spanish Colonial art, but with a magical and romantic vision. What do you think about that?

One of my first memories as a child is the family altar of ‘santos’. In a way my paintings are reminiscent of those child like figures of saints with ivory heads. I also have lived in places with strong traditions of Hispanic art, first in the Philippines, San Antonio, Texas and now in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Is there any aspect of you that you’ve put in your paintings?

It is probably the “ambiguous gaze” in the eyes of my figures. I gaze at the figure, it gazes back at me, and it is perhaps that wonderment in the eyes that I hope is full of the emotions I feel when I create.

If we want find you in one of your creations, what would be and why?

“The Novice with Dog and Sweet Peas” … it is a painting of a nun with a little dog. I love it because it is a “devotional” painting of someone professing their vocation. And painting for myself is a devotion and a vocation. However I tend not to take myself all that seriously, hence the presence of the funny little dog.

“The lover’s eye”: what is emotion for you?

The lover’s eye paintings are all about love naturally. Someone secret or long gone. It is also a pictorial conceit of a portrait within a portrait. And perhaps a third eye, like a silent witness.

How do you feel when you are creating?

Mostly nervous. Sometimes excited.

Tell to us about your collaboration with A Magazine Curated by Alessandro Michele

Alessandro Michele is an extraordinary talent and visionary. After learning that he liked my work and found it an inspiration I was completely amazed and honored. So when Dan Thawley of A Magazine Curated By contacted me about contributing to the issue, my answer was an immediate “yes!”. In turn, I was inspired by Alessandro Michele and I ran with his “Blind for Love” theme and his coral snake has made it slowly into my paintings. It’s splendidly romantic imagery.

Hey! Issue no. 28

I am so pleased to share this interview by Anne and Julien of  Hey! Modern Art and Pop Culture, a bilingual French-English art magazine based in Paris. Thank you to the Hey! team for including me in their Issue no. 28. Please click here to view the PDF file.

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“I borrow a lot from the history of art and I feel a stylistic connection with the colonial painters, and particularly with the Latin American and North American colonial works. I paint symbols or metaphors; for example a physical wound from an arrow is a pictorial representation of heartache. These are personal journeys common to everyone like falling in love or losing someone. I am a romantic painter and self-educated. I paint beauty and joy and sadness, I am very simple in this way! Seem to paint the same female and/or male figure, always and always… It’s because growing up in the Philippines, I’ve seen many religious Santos figures which all had that similar angelic, antique faces. Furthermore, I am very attracted [to] childhood―the time of innocence, before experience blunts our emotions―that’s why I paint children.

I was myself a quiet and bookish child and teenager. In my early adolescence I loved the impressionist world of [Pierre Auguste] Renoir and the rococo of Francois Boucher. Later in high school I was lucky enough to take part in a mural painting workshop where I discovered the works of the Mexican muralists like Diego Rivera and Jose Clemente Orozco. I was intrigued and in awe in front of that art with fully political and social narratives, but I was always more drawn towards the personal and intimate dimensions. I wanted to be―like so many girls and women―Frida Kahlo instead, doing small paintings full of personal sorrows and desires. Nicolas Poussin and Jean-Antoine Watteau are my favorite artists. They both created idealized landscapes and pastoral scenes that at first glance beguile us with beauty. But when you look closer there is so much more going on. In Poussin, there is always the reminder of death, rage and seduction. And in Watteau’s fêtes galantes the loss of love haunts the lovers portrayed. I am reminded of that line from W.H. Auden: ‘I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.’  The merging of the classical ideal and and human humility is terribly fascinating to me. I think that’s where the change from personal to universal happens.

Currently I am exploring the many varieties of flora and fauna. I am inspired by Dutch floral painting because it is beautiful and sumptuous. I am playing with the symbolism of flowers, such as those of constancy, unrequited love, and the ephemeral nature of beauty itself. I am also continuing and expanding on the role of animals in my paintings. I am very much inspired by Jean-Baptiste Oudry’s menagerie. I think of companion animals as reflections of their humans, displaying our inner desires and jealousies, kindnesses and pains. At the moment I am grieving the loss of my beloved dog and in my current work with the flora and fauna theme I find that I want to celebrate that bond between human and animal companion….Looking back, I think the adult I became is not very different from the teenager I was: I’m still calm and hard-working. And I see myself going back to the themes I was thinking about at that time: I’m rediscovering my lover for the rococo that I discovered many years ago.”

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“A Magazine Curated By Alessandro Michele”

I am so delighted to announce the publication of “A Magazine Curated By Alessandro Michele”. It is such an honor to be asked to contribute by GUCCI‘s creative director Alessandro Michele.  A MAGAZINE CURATED BY is a Paris-based bi-annual fashion and art magazine which invites designers and fashion houses to curate an issue as the guest editor. Alessandro Michele’s issue is breathtaking in its romanticism―”Blind for Love” is the overarching theme. I am immensely grateful to be in the company of all the other contributors. It is a beautiful book full of the eclectic images―from 17th C. English portraiture, John Currin’s paintings, Cindy Sherman’s film stills series to Unskilled Worker’s contemporary portrait of Edward and Wallis Simpson―and writings―an excerpt from Fanny de Beauharnais’ 18th Century “L’Aveugle Par Amour”, a letter from Capt. Wentworth to Anne Elliott from Jane Austen’s Persuasion, “Song” by Florence Welch―which have inspired Michele for his recent collections.

 

Marie Claire, December 2016

“Hand with Snake and Weeping Eye” appears in Marie Claire magazine’s December 2016 issue. Thank you to Marie Claire creative director Nina Garcia for selecting my little painting in the “What Nina Loves” luxury items feature.

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Hand with Snake and Weeping Eye
“Hand with Snake and Weeping Eye” oil on panel, 7×5 inches, private collection