Alonsa Guevara is an artist living and working in New York. Guevara was born in Rancagua, Chile, but lived in Ecuador from the age of 5 to 11 years old. Her family then moved back to Chile where as a young creative with an inclination towards making, she discovered oil painting. Guevara speaks fondly of her grandmother, who taught her everything she knows; from cutting the wood to make frames, stretching, and preparing the canvas, as well as colour mixing. Awe-inspired by and with an acute knowledge of nature, she uses it as the sole subject of her paintings. Guevara uses nature as a portal to communicate her thoughts on fantasy vs reality, womanhood, fertility, desire, and the senses.
In 2009, Alonsa Guevara received a BFA from the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. Then in 2011, she moved to New York City to complete the MFA programme at the New York Academy of Art. The urban landscape of New York made Guevara nostalgic for the landscapes of home, she began to paint elements nature from old images and memory and hasn’t stopped since.
Guevara’s work has been exhibited extensively over the past 10 or so years. The most important and career-defining was ‘Espíritu,’ her second solo show held at the Anna Zarina Gallery in New York in 2018. The multi-sensory exhibition was made up of paintings, and time-sensitive sculptures that changed as the show went on. Here, she was able to showcase art of various discipline, and display all her most recent and successful experiments.
Alonsa Guevara’s ‘The Calling’ reminds one of the rich, desperately reliant (mostly on our part) and invaluable relationship between humankind and nature. The oil paintings that are featured in this exhibition are urgent and confronting, but most of all a celebration of colour that stimulate all 5 senses. The opulent and oozing sights give way to illusory taste and smell; an eager craving for fresh tropical fruits and flowers overwhelms.
Amongst others exhibited are ‘Call of the Passionflower’ and ‘Call of the Watermelon.’ These circular paintings are from Guevara’s ‘The Callings’ series, the exhibitions namesakes. Both paintings are approximately 60” in diameter and hold one in magnetic pulls to their core. The sphere is symbolic of infinity, the unending circle of life. Once you are immersed in these surreal and hypnotic works, it is a challenge to come away. But before you do, the artist asks you to pay careful attention to the centre of the artworks. It is here that Guevara has hidden words that answer her most pressing question: “What have people learnt over the last couple of years?”
Other works that feature in this impressive demonstration include a regal self-portrait of the artist when she was pregnant, and a ceremonious duo ‘Jeny’s Crown’ and ‘Jael’s Crown.’ All subjects are endowed in fresh fruits and flowers, and appear floating, angelic. Guevara has explored and investigated “patterns, shapes and images that have appeared during my dreams, meditations, and experiences with plant medicine,” and documented the result in luscious oils. Consequently, the paintings subjects appear pulsating on planes of higher consciousness and in transcendence. The figures at once emerge from, and obscure amongst intertwined elements of nature, emphasizing the oneiric quality of the imagined world they inhabit.