Loyal is pleased to present Tania Marmolejo, What Was Saved from the Fire, a solo exhibition of twelve oil paintings installed over two floors of the gallery.
What Was Saved from the Fire
I have often been asked which of my possessions I would save from a fire, and without hesitation I answer “My grandmother Elsa’s sketchbook”. It is without a doubt the possession that is most attached to me emotionally, a compilation of drawings made by my Swedish maternal grandmother Elsa when she was a young teenager, teaching herself how to draw.
I sadly never met Elsa, she died before I was born. Fire is what tragically took her life, but fire is also the passion she had for art, that I feel got passed down to me and has connected me to her in many ways. I was always fascinated by her drawings since I was a little girl, and they were the biggest influence in my own desire to draw and paint. And though she was also a painter and mastered her craft, it was her sketchbook full of cartoons that captivated my attention the most.
A frustrated artist, Elsa wished as a young woman that she could have studied art in Stockholm, but the economic and gender boundaries of the time prohibited her from doing so. Growing up in a home that fully supported my own artistic passions, and being allowed to study and to pursue art as a career, I feel I am now happily responsible for carrying on her dream somehow. I feel incredibly humbled and proud that I have the chance to show some of my favorite of her sketches next to my paintings, (in Stockholm!) and show how her story has come full circle.
The paintings I created for this exhibition reflect a nostalgia for my childhood summers spent in Sweden, the happy memories that connect me to my mother and grandmother’s homeland. I’ve added a couple of her little drawings to a few paintings of mine to show the presence they have always had. Taking reference from old photographs in the use of color and mood, and also from the memories and emotions that come from those moments, I’ve created an emotional and mental conversation with Elsa (and hopefully with the viewer), of experiences I would have liked to have shared with her, an acknowledgement of what her art and being connected to Sweden always meant to me, and an appreciation of how life can be such a fragile, fleeting, beautiful thing.
–Tania Marmolejo, May 2023
TANIA MARMOLEJO (born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic in 1975) lives and works in New York. Influenced by her Scandinavian and Caribbean heritage, she began her BA at Kvadraturen Videregaende Scholen in Christiansand, Norway and returned to the Dominican Republic to study at the Altos de Chavón School of Design in La Romana, DR. In 1998 she received the Bluhdorn Scholarship and continued her studies at Parsons School of Design in New York completing her degree in fine arts and illustration in 2000.
This year Marmolejo mounted solo exhibitions at Eligere Gallery (Seoul), Villazan (Madrid), and now at Loyal (Stockholm). Previous solo exhibitions also include Centre of International Contemporary Art (CICA) (Vancouver, Canada), Volery Gallery (Dubai), Eligere Gallery (Seoul), GR Gallery (New York), Museo Cándido Bidó (Bonao, Dominican Republic), and Lyle O. Reitzel (Santo Domingo). Marmolejo’s work was recently included in group exhibitions at Nicodim (Los Angeles), Galerie Hussenot (Paris), and Cohle Gallery (Paris) among many others.
Marmolejo’s work fuses the intimate and personal with the monumental in her large-scale paintings depicting enigmatic female figures with bold and exalted eyes, calling attention to a recognition of women as a key figure in society. As a Swedish-Dominican female artist, she explores issues of gender and identity using the female image and physical expression as a system of communicating vessels to transfer emotion to her viewers, creating affective and emotional empathy.
Her work is in the collections of Museo Candido Bido (Bonao, Dominican Republic), and Xiao Museum of Contemporary Art (Rizhao, China).