Studio Visit: MARIANA PANIAGUA
Mexico City- based visual artist reveals her creative process and new work series.
Mariana Paniagua's work focuses on abstract painting, using chaos as inspiration. She is interested in conveying a strong emotional response to her audience. Her process, defined by repetition, serves as an analogy between the act of erring and being defeated repeatedly by the human condition.
There is a dialectic of writing-erasing, breaking-pasting, painting-removing layers, a path in which Paniagua retraces her steps until she finds herself again in front of a blank sheet, which has been undone and rebuilt in many points of the piece's development.
We met the artist in her studio to learn about the themes that inspired her to dive into abstract practice and her creative process.
How does your process start when painting?
In general, I cover the canvas using gesso to fix a surface, and I start to draw from the imprimatur: first, I stamp, then I see the space. I make landscapes in layers of time, not so much of a specific place, for example, a landscape built of ruins, as the vestiges of some event.
Cuando todo se deshabite, 2021. Acrylic and oil on linen. 70h x 80w cm
What do you mean by layers of time?
Something fundamental in my process is to think about this body thing, the manual actions of this coming and going of cutting and pasting, sanding, erasing, etc., and how long these actions take. The painted surface is seen, but the weight of things and every moment of my life is also perceived. Because there are different days in which things happen in me, I wonder how to translate this aspect of time to the piece and be transmitted to whoever observes it.
How much are you interested in whether or not the viewer recognizes figures or elements in your paintings?
Lately, I have been more concerned about it being perceived as a formal abstract painting. I am interested in delving into many things about painting beyond how it looks. I feel like sometimes some types of abstract painting are because of the form. In general, I don't worry about people seeing what I'm thinking, but I am interested in that emotional impact. I like it when people tell me what they see; I am interested in what they find behind that form of a veil, that which conceals something that is still there.
As an abstract artist, which artists inspire your work?
For a while, I was very nailed with Bacon, with this issue of meat in a vacuum. I am very interested in Hilma af Klint, with this idea of abstraction that is not abstraction and how she makes diagrams and paints figuratively under certain logic. I think that has also influenced the way I see my painting; generally, everyone sees it as something abstract; for me, it is more like a landscape. I am interested in the figuration arising from the same process, not so much as representation.
We noticed that there are several paints with similar color palettes. What prompts you to select your color palette?
I select the palette based on the environment or atmosphere I want to generate; for example, I think a lot about light, sunrise, or sunset.
Do you take the colors and do a series?
Yes, when I come across something that impacts me, I need to do one. Now I am producing a series about the night; I am working with blues, thinking of the dark from different blue shades instead of black. It struck me how the sky is permanently dying and living, the same as with the sea.
For example, in this series I’m making, I wanted to start with a lot of light and then cover it with black afterward, leaving elements like the stars to emerge from below it, not as something superimposed. Beginning with pure lightness and then covering it as if black or blue were also material, not just shades of light.
What could you say is the main theme of your paintings?
Before I worked with the defeated or fallen human figure, with the human condition from the absurd, I began to make these figures, but later, I was interested in the space in which they were, and this became more abstract. I think everything from the light and the passage of time.
La caída 10, 2018. Acrylic on canvas. 150h x 150w cm