Fatima Ronquillo was recently interviewed by Anne and Julien of Hey! Modern Art and Pop Culture, a bilingual French-English art magazine based in Paris
“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 galantesthe 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.”