Recently I spent time with Lucía Morán Giracca at her studio in Santa Ana. Around the room were completed paintings and works in process for her upcoming show, Gota a Gota (Drop by Drop), which will open at Mesón Panza Verde on December 14, 2011. To my left, on an easel, was a finalized acrylic. Taped to the far wall was a giant watercolor undergoing a series of transformations. I was drawn to both paintings immediately, feeling a bit like a dog trying to chase two rabbits. The acrylic featured a woman flying through a blue sky above the streamers of a feria (see p. 15). The watercolor seemed to rotate around the faces of two women, possibly seen in a mirror, separated from an oaken background and surrounded by oddly menacing birds (at the time of publication, the painting was still incomplete, but will be on display at the show in December). I was going to ask Lucía about both works, but she said, “Before we start, come out with me to the terrace. I just love this view.” And so we walked outside.
Now, maybe it was because the rainy season had just drawn to a close after a particularly dark and grey several weeks, or maybe it was having just been in a studio surrounded by Lucía ’s riotous, fauve palette, but upon walking into the pure Guatemalan sunlight I felt a visceral understanding of what drives Lucía to make many of her aesthetic choices.
Looking back through the window and into her studio, it was clear: Lucía Morán Giracca sees the colors of this world in a very different way than most of the rest of us. The sky in this country, for six months of the year, is her color blue, but I rarely even notice it, other than to idly think, “Hey, nice day today.” But Lucía captures those colors like she’s experiencing them for the first time. Really. Choose any of the images on these pages and start ticking off where you’ve seen these colors in your days and ways about Central America. This oxidized red is the exact expression of the walls on 3rd Calle. That yellow must have been pulled from the cornfields in April near Tecpán. The way this white and those shades of brown play off one another is certainly pulled from a dream of a ceiba tree.
Continue as you will.
When we returned inside, I asked Lucía about her palette. Was it intentionally Guatemalan, or was I just making that up?
“Well, yes,” she said plainly. “It is a Guatemalan palette. When I was in Spain [Morán has spent two of the past four years in Barcelona, painting and showing in Europe] I found that my colors took on a less vibrant form. Such bright colors shock people over there. But here, it’s coming back. The blues, particularly.”
She continued, “But it’s not just the colors. I also use forms that are intentionally about Guatemala.”
I asked her to explain and she obliged by walking me around the room and pointing to repeated images and patterns I’d not yet seen in the work.
Referring to the two images that are on page 14, Lucía spoke of the importance of la pila in Guatemalan life.
“Here it is, this heavy, almost immovable thing that exists in every house in Guatemala. It’s at the pila that so much work is put into making your world clean. It takes so much work. But it is also so logical in its own way, one basin for clean water, one for washing.”
I understood her that this was much like Guatemala, itself. I was going to ask her directly, but she pulled my attention to another icon that returns over and over in her work.
“In Guatemala we all live inside bubbles, las burbujas. At times we have to, they keep us sane from all the violence and the craziness of this country. I’ve had a number of friends killed in the last year, friends who were trying to change things just a bit for the better in this country, and so they were killed. Sometimes we need our bubbles to keep us sane, or to give us the strength to fight. But those bubbles can also keep us from one another, and no matter what, we are vulnerable inside them, fearful that they will be pierced. There’s an ambiguity there. Or a way that both things are true.”
Lucía thought for a moment. I’d imagine she was thinking about those absent friends.
“Why is the show titled Gota a Gota,” I asked.
“I think you have a similar expression in English. Drop by drop, yes? Gota a gota you fill the ocean. Guatemala sits under the blue sky, under rain clouds made of drops, clouds that are beautiful, but that obscure the sun, clouds that can bring terrible destruction. Those small drops are our sweat. Our blood. Our saliva. Our way to be clean. Our disaster if they come too fast and bury us alive under a mudslide. They are our relief, as well. Our tears.
“And, drop by drop, gota a gota, they define our lives. Look for them in the paintings. They are always with us as we work to communicate, to love, to live.”
She seems very serious for a moment, then cocks her head back and laughs.
”Also, I just love the way they look. I love their form. I love to paint their natural lines, the way it arcs.
“I think that’s important, too. Beauty, particularly in nature, is important, too. We shouldn’t forget it. Not in Guatemala.”
Lucía Morán Giracca’s Gota a Gota is opening at La Galería de Panza Verde on Wednesday December 14, 2011 at 5 p.m. Mesón Panza Verde is located on 5ta Avenida Sur, #19