Chilean Artist Takes Painterly Inspiration from Landscape and Memory

“I realized from a very young age that I had a talent for drawing and painting”, Javiera da Fonseca explains to us when we get in touch to explore how this highly stylised painter came to develop her dusky day-glo, ‘tropicana‘ style of work. Her fascinating pieces, predominantly in faded hues of orange, pink, and turquoise, deal principally in the concept of emotional memory, licensing a stripped back, angular rendering of real scenes that evokes a space tinted by the spectacles of memory – rose-tinted or otherwise.

Casa San Angel

Currently based in Mexico City, Chilean artist Javiera has pursued painting since those early years in which she discovered her talent. Now, with a qualification in Visual Arts and a series of international exhibitions across Chile, Canada, and the Unites Stated under her belt, Javiera’s is a well-honed style.

Her interest in analogue photography comes through in the sharply rendered acrylic paint work. This selection, taken principally from her exhibition Aura (A Mexican Experience) at the Back Gallery Project in Vancouver, Canada (exhibition ends April 22nd), sees palm ferns and arid scenes complemented by stripped-back modernist architecture and a liberal use of contrasting shadow.


With such a characteristic aesthetic style, we thought it high time we got in touch with Javiera to find out its origins.

The Plus: What do you find particularly inspiring about landscape? It’s a fairly ever-present feature of your work.

Javiera da Fonseca:
The mix of nature and architecture is something that has always called my attention: the way that nature has been dominated by it, and by progress, and by civilization. I always paint places that I have been to. These are all Mexican landscapes; I have been living in Mexico for little over a year.

Copa de Agua

TP: Nature is often juxtaposed with modern buildings in your work – why is this?

I feel that when you look at architecture – say a building, a house, or a bridge – it starts automatically connecting with nature in many ways, and the same thing happens when you look at nature: there´s a kind of architecture in it, a structure.


TP: It’s been said of you that you paint not just landscapes, but also ‘moments’: what parts of a moment to you try and pin down in your painting?

They are memories related to love, and everything implied by the development of this feeling over time. In my solo exhibition Aura: A Mexican Experience, for example, I worked on a emotional affair that I had in Mexico. I paint specific places that I have taken from that personal story, and other sentimental stories that I’ve been through before. In others, the emotion is just that which I was living, shaped on the canvas. I work a lot with emotional memory.

Homenaje a LuisBarragan

TP: Do you find it difficult to put these personal feelings into the public domain?
It all begins very naturally when I start the painting, and the results are pieces filled with sentimental feeling in the background, the beginning of something that brought me joy and then started to transform into a more incomplete emotion. All of that process is in the paintings, and the wounds to the ego most of all.

Casa Observatorio

TP: You have frequently used a similar colour palette in your recent work – why is this?

The mix of tertiary colours and graded effects in my work reflect an inner state, a romantic state in every meaning of the word, one in which feelings and the soul are put first. That´s why they’re all in these special tones: they submerge you in a rare atmosphere, as if in a place frozen in time.

Jardín II

TP: What’s next for you?

I am developing a mural project, and a pop up exhibition for April, both with 3 other Chilean artists here in Mexico City. With my gallery in Vancouver we are going to Seattle Art Fair in August.

Mazunte II
Plaza México
Refugio MX
Venice Beach

Visit Javiera’s solo exhibition Aura (A Mexican Experience) at Back Gallery, Vancouver, Canada, until April 22nd.