Juan Manuel Bonet

Critical Excerpt

Is it an actual city that María Luisa de Mendoza paints today? With her 2001 show, geography, history and sites mattered to her. Today her process is quite different. Everything superfluous has been removed. She has made her proposal most important. Her focus is on creating architectural images of immense, desolate urban spaces where the human figure is totally absent.

…Strolling through the abstract, deserted city that is stripped of any human story; a city painted with utter pulchritude in a style that sometimes reminds me, in addition to the metaphysical, to that "outsider " of "popart,” the Californian painter Ed Ruscha. Very high towers, devoid of any adornment to entertain the eyes, which nearly touch the blue, gray, red, almost white, eerily green sky...

... Castles. Casemates. Beehives that are a little on the hazy side. All in the manner of, say, Metropolis by Fritz Lang and further back in time, the primordial metaphor of the Brueghelian Tower of Babel. Extensive white, black, gray, red, delicately pink walls ... connecting to a very high tiny, lonely little window that opens far above ... what are they dreaming of in that cell, at that high vantage point over the world? Stairs - some of them vertical, some for emergency – rise up to small balconies with slender metallic rails like those at a Tibetan monastery. Three cubic terraces. More terraces. Passages from which one feels dizzy. Tubular structures. Cylindrical tanks, vaguely reminiscent of the New York of old that we now inevitably associate with the name Edward Hopper, who is another important reference for understanding this tranquil universe...

Lost heavens, yes, to which this painter always devotes great prominence. The shadows that materialize in the afternoon are featured as well, like those that always appear in the paintings of Giorgio de Chirico and the work of Hopper. A tranquil universe, yes, and yet so disturbing!

Javier Rubio Nomblot

Excerpts from the Exhibition "Architecture/Nature"

In his two classic books, Art and Illusion (1960) and The Sense of Order (1979), Ernst Gombrich spoke of "minimal models,” schema or " patterns of order" that humans tend to perceive (we could also say find or imagine) intuitively - in nature ... geometry humanizes the world; it carries meaning; it is a sign that there is something else beyond the ensuing chaos…

María Luisa de Mendoza looks upward and perceives definite fractures in the skyline; they are ambiguities and phenomena that are all equally extraordinary precisely because geometry is never neutral or harmless. It is inscribed at the heart of the form -whether organic or inorganic - defining its development and exerting itself on the viewer. Not only do we search for order, but this also shapes us. Every painting is a composition and in every composition there is a part of the intimate structure of all things...

N. Tribaldos González

N. Tribaldos Gonzalez. Art Collection of the City of Badajoz

The work of María Luisa de Mendoza stands out for its concept of volume, its smooth, silky surfaces and its clean depictions that contribute a fullness to the surreal, metaphysical undertones of these personal creations. Although the treatment of the light is intense, everything else in the frame distances itself from quotidian references. The entire body of work is notable for its compositional acuity, the clarity of the skies, the barrenness of the space and the emptiness that is experienced by the viewer.

Artist’s Statement

Explanation of My Work

I am an artist who paints the city, but no specific city. I have memories and experiences as a spectator from all of them. In my paintings, every corner can belong to any place in the world. There are no identifying signs that put them in any particular location. This makes them more universal.

I like architecture, but I do not intend to simply paint architecture; that's not the idea. I try to go further, seeking the essence, conveying feelings and transporting the viewer to lost corners of the soul. It is a spiritual journey.

I paint the collective city and am always looking curiously toward the sky where I find little stairs, typical of the roofs, climbing to some mysterious place - antennas, smoking chimneys... crowning the city, so lonely, so alien to the world and everything that happens below. Down below, everything changes with the same speed as our hurried pace. Above however, time stops and for me this produces a pleasurable feeling of tranquility.

What I'm trying to convey to the viewer are other less realistic perspectives of the city: more intimate, more poetic and ultimately more metaphysical.

I encountered Hopper's paintings many years ago in an exhibition at the Juan March Foundation. It marked the beginning of my work. Later I developed a great admiration for the metaphysical painters (de Chirico, Carrà, Tanguy, etc.). I think these influences are obvious when you are familiar with my work. Realism does not interest me in the same way. I'm searching for something more, a new way of seeing and feeling the city and examining its inner meaning.

Regarding color, I work in layers. Each of them is like an abstract painting of many shades, sometimes almost imperceptible. Color is not exactly what most concerns me in my work, but rather the light. In my painting Inner City, light plays an important role and is what directs the entire process: first I plan the sky (from which the light and what forms it develops) and the rest of the work is determined by it.