Argentinean painter Cristina Ruiz Guiñazú’s practice resides between realism, pop art, academic painting and the surreal — a style she describes as minimalist realism. The artist’s masterful and compelling pictures possess a clarity and beauty expressed as a luminescent strangeness, a perfection of tone, division of space and unsettling scenes recalling the dream world of Freudian theory. Within this approach is a commitment to storytelling and the creation of arresting figural images and tableaux that both puzzles and intrigues the viewer.
Guiñazú begins her work with small drawings in notebooks to develop her ideas. Using acrylics and brushes she layers her pigment, followed by a wash, this process repeated in a slow and meticulous manner. Such technique is seen in the discrete areas of colour and light, distilled quietly yet expertly in surreal juxtapositions of figures and objects, landscapes, and classic portraits.
Guiñazú has a wide variety of visual sources including photographs as well as imagery found online and in print material. Her interest in fine art began when she was a child: “I collected pictures from an illustrated bible series that my mother bought me. There were images from the Renaissance and illuminated manuscripts from the Middle Ages. I dreamt that one day I would be able to paint in the style of the Renaissance and indeed Realism has always fascinated me. It seemed to me terribly difficult in a technical sense and was therefore a challenge for me to achieve.”
In some of these hyper real pictures, there are notations of sorts of political events, dance performances and her native country of Argentina. As well, Guiñazú’s esoteric work contains references to historical figures and thinkers such as Spinoza. She also notes an abiding interest in psychoanalysis, namely the work of Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan. Of the motifs of angels, the painter explains that these images derive from conversations with her mother about her mystical encounters with these creatures and so these figures reappear as emblems of this connection to the other world and her mother’s experience.
As well as these intimate stories and symbols, Guiñazú’s work is related to the history of art, and she shares an interest in a diverse group of historic painters from the Flemish primitives to the painters of the Dutch Golden Age, Bronzino as well as the work of the Pre Raphaelites among many others. Whatever the myriad influences and sources, she has created her own approach to realism, allowed an unexpected treatment of subject matter, colour and vision to emerge in a striking series of surreal pictures. The achievement of Guiñazú seems in part to be in her masterly pairing of painterly restraint with a magical sense of storytelling.
Rosa JH Berland