Fatima Ronquillo’s contemporary figurative paintings are lyrical and theatrical as the artist finds inspiration in her personal passions for opera, art history, literature, mythology and more. Ronquillo weaves playful narratives into her paintings, which are characterized by innocent faced figures engaging in situations of requited or unrequited love. These narratives evoke nostalgic responses from viewers as they draw upon humor, whimsy, sadness, loss and other relatable sentiments. Over the past several years themes of flora and fauna have been a point of focus for Ronquillo, which has allowed the artist new avenues for imaginative storytelling. “Flowers and animals have symbolic and mythical associations that lend to a narrative content,” she says of her current subject matter.
Ronquillo’s latest body of paintings for “Mythologies” is a natural evolution of her flora and fauna motif. “I wanted to put the animals in context,” she explains. “Animals are so symbolic and are companions to gods and goddesses, which led to this theme.” Ronquillo’s latest narratives are inspired by tales from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. She keeps a copy of the text in her studio and thumbs through it when searching for inspiration. “There are so many stories that I’ll probably be working off this for years,” she says of the 250+ poems that make up Ovid’s work.
Characters from Metamorphoses such as baby Hercules and the Roman goddess Juno make their way into Ronquillo’s current body of work for “Mythologies.” Juno is paired with a peacock, the animal she is associated with for granting its beauty. Another story that Ronquillo visualizes in the show is that of Actaeon and his dogs. In the myth, Actaeon stumbles upon Diana, goddess of the hunt, bathing nude in a spring. Startled, Diana splashes water on the young hunter who transforms into a stag and flees. His own hounds track him down and kill him, not recognizing their owner. In Ronquillo’s painting of this complex storyline, Actaeon is the stoic central figure with sprouting horns. The hunter, proudly holding a spear and draped in fur from his own conquests, seems oblivious to the pack of pursuing dogs in the background. View the painting here.
Join us this Friday to see more paintings and discover the stories and myths that are layered into Ronquillo’s work. “Mythologies” opens 2/23 from 6-9pm.