When I was invited to present an art exhibition at the Bronx Music Heritage Center, I was asked to think about the Black Virgin. I proposed to explore the connection to Mary Magdalene and gave a tentative title, The Dark Magdalene. At that point I didn't know if I would keep the title, but little by little knew that I would not change it. It has certainly been a dark time for me lately, and in order to come into the light I had to get comfortable with the darkness. I didn't know what the Dark Magdalene was, so I began with the Black Madonna and read a book about her history, and let the rest of the images come.
I packed my studio essentials, paint, brushes, canvas, inks... and left New York to come to Puerto Rico to work on the show. I had recently packed my whole apartment and my studio, and my family and I had to move temporarily, so moving for a while to paint in Puerto Rico was almost natural. I needed a place where I could rebuild the studio I had just lost in NYC.
I bought my father's house and set up my very rustic studio there. It is in a mountain, not that far from town, but still the countryside. At night, it is very dark there, but it is also very beautiful, especially in the morning.
The painting took a while. It was hard to flow with family, friends, visits to the lawyer and public agencies to put the house in my name, and the difference in the atmosphere. My uncle also died at the end of my time here. And I was alone, without a car, without telephone, without Internet, which sounds good in principle, but is very inconvenient in reality. I had to make dates with my mother and a friend in order to have daily human contact and access to the Internet. But once I got to the town, it was really hard to actually do anything but talk and listen.
Little by little, the paintings began to flow, but it was difficult. The Dark Magdalene. The Black Virgin. The Dark aspect of Spirit. The darkness in one's own self. I began by painting with light and little by little had to let go and change mediums and just paint differently. These paintings, especially the last ones I made, combine the experiments I had been working with in acrylic for other work with other themes.
Today is my last day here and I am packing and getting ready to travel to New York with the paintings, but I am not done. This piece of writing is not done. I am trying to get my brain back to the verbal side, but it's not ready yet... But the show will be up on the walls even if my brain is not up to date!
If you are in NYC, please join us on Saturday, May 19 at the Bronx Music Heritage Center to see the paintings and for a great evening.
Image: The Rose by Tanya Torres. Oil on Canvas, 10" x 8", 2018.