"These jewel-like paintings intuitively fuse different aesthetic traditions, folk art and old master, with natural grace and an uncanny quality that may be a species of magic." —American Arts Quarterly
by Devon Jackson
October/November 2010, p 52
You either love this sort of cheeky classical style or you loathe it. Botero fans and appreciators of an appreciator of Titian and Rubens and their contemporaries, will dig it (as I do). Why? Because Ronquillo, a self-taught Filipino immigrant now living in Santa Fe, unlike most educated painters who dip their brushes into this genre, embraces her forebears not just intellectually but with her heart as well. Honest art is art worth paying attention to.
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…..
“Young Woman with a Cupid” is featured in Oxford American Magazine’s The Southern Literature Issue 2009, No. 66, paired with “Rick Bragg Laments His Absent Muse.” See it online here. Hits newsstands this week. I’m so grateful to be included among other wonderful artists and great writers.
Here, where the history of writing is so deep and rich that magic, surely, must be involved, the craft comes with a dance card of legend, myth, and pretension. Could mortal men and women tell stories so well? Or, through an open window did inspiration come? – Rick Bragg
So happy to see my favorite novel, As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner, made it as #7 on their literature poll, Best Southern Novels of All Time. It’s been years since reading it, but I remember how much it made me laugh and cry. I’m going to have to get a copy and read again.
I once heard a poet say she never reads novels. When asked why, she said, “Because I always get about twenty pages in and then realize, hmm, THIS isn’t As I Lay Dying.” In comparison, everything else is a bit of a disappointment. – Keith Lee Morris
Thank you to Rachel Koper of The Austin Chronicle for taking notice of my work in a recent review of “A Grand Affair” group show currently on exhibit through January 31 at Wally Workman in Austin. I think the sentiment is appropriate as I wanted the air of delicacy to infuse these two paintings. Delicate and pale, a serenity which harkens to Chardin and Gwen John.
New to me but not the gallery is Fatima Ronquillo, who paints pale women and girls in a classical style. They are dainty, dreamy, and a bit like antique dolls. They have very feminine, lacy clothes that are soothing and cozy, relaxing to the eyes (perhaps like a dose of laudanum).
The phrase “tow head” has always fascinated me as my husband’s late grandmother used to say that he and his mother were ‘regular tow heads’ when they were young. The word ‘tow’ means flax or hemp and so it’s literally ‘flaxen haired.’
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