Delicate, sophisticated, penetrating: these three adjectives accurately describe the work of Ottawa-based artist Lorena Ziraldo. Many of the works featured in “I Killed the Group of Seven” attack the exhibition’s theme head on and in a very literal, “in your face” manner. Ziraldo, on the other hand, tackles the theme with quiet technical sophistication. Her prime focus is on brushwork and colour placement. The result is a tender and thoughtful work of art that touches and inspires its viewer.
|Lorena Ziraldo, Sorry I Missed You, I Was at the Gallery|
Ziraldo is inspired by people. She watches them, takes photographs, reads magazines and newspapers, and chooses the images that have the greatest emotional impact. She combines this inspiration with the formal and technical qualities one sees present in her paintings. In this sense, her paintings often tell a quiet and unassuming story rooted in human emotion. For example, her work, Sorry I Missed You, I was at the Gallery (featured in this month’s exhibition, “I Killed the Group of Seven”) mediates a relationship between the art world and personal, emotional narrative. The work focuses on the back of a lone man standing in front of a beautiful painterly interpretation of a Warhol silkscreen. Ziraldo has captured a seemingly mundane scene but her skillful rendering of the figure tells a complex and emotional tale. The viewer must question; why is this man enjoying the art alone? The simulated gallery space in this work becomes a quiet space for private contemplation and the presence of the figure removes the work from the crazy, chaotic, and ever-changing contemporary art world. The viewer is left to reflect on the story behind the figure, whose face we cannot see. The impact of human emotion is a question that Ziraldo frequently concerns herself with. In fact, when she prepares a scene to paint she will often stage it herself. “[I] will place people, [will] want them to wear certain items, ask for emotions, subtle shifts of their bodies, etc.
“Painting and drawing,” Ziraldo states, “is something that I have always done. Painting sort of chose me.” There really is no method to her artistic process. Ziraldo allows herself to become inspired by the images she creates and captures in the world and will often paint the same image in many different ways before she stumbles across the finished product. She believes that the artist’s role in society is to document, comment on, and explore the world around her. “Whether [the artist uses] film or found garbage – we are all saying something about who we are, what is going on, and what it is to be.” Ziraldo’s self portrait, titled C, in our current exhibition aptly reflects this idea of how she views the artist in society. It is a beautiful and colourful rendering of her self-image that penetrates the viewer with a tranquil sense of purpose and confidence. She presents herself to her audience in the exact manner she wishes to be seen – as an emotional and quiet observer of the world around her. This painting is simply breathtaking in its subtlety.
|Lorena Ziraldo, C|
Ziraldo’s works balance the chaos and blatantly murderous themes represented by many of the other works in the show. Ziraldo successfully “kills” the Group of Seven by attending to emotional impact rather than the landscape. Her focus is on the emotions of people out in the world, something she captures with sophisticated elegance and raw painterly talent.
In a world preoccupied with a consumerist and political agenda, it is refreshing to find an artist who takes genuine pleasure in human emotions. It is a further pleasure to witness an artist that renders such emotion with enough elegance and sophistication to tenderly stir her audience.