Figuring Out Contemporary Impressions
by Ryan Mario
Artist Majo Portilla
"I never plan for the colours; I wait for them to talk to me."
If there is one thing apparent from the works of Dutch artist Majo Portilla, it is her fondness of colours; “exquisite chaos” comes in close second.
As a business administrator and economist, Majo’s climb over the fence into the arts was not one without uncertainty and adversities. Having attained a MSc in Behavioural Economics, it was solely her fervour for her persisting inclination that provided the final nudge towards a career switch even without former art education.
Appreciation of Majo’s art comes in two waves: a first glance from afar strikes the viewers with simplistic vibrancy in a way almost characteristic of the Neo-Impressionistic style that foregrounded the science of optics and colours. Relying on the viewer's capacity to optically blend the colours on the canvas, Majo barely concerns herself with the formalities of mixing paint on the palette. Instead, she strove to create more luminous paintings that are reflective of her spontaneous nature, mostly by using palette knives to conduct paint onto the canvas as thick impastos, which brings us to the second part – texture.
Working her way up from an initial charcoal or graphite sketches, Majo builds up layers of paint that are left to dry naturally. Gradually, Textures materialise as unabashedly blatant protrusions, and these are what catch the details when the final layer of paint is smeared atop, ultimately tying together the elements into its entirety of the composition.
“I never plan for the colours; I wait for them to talk to me,” proclaims the artist as she flourishes her palette knife within her home studio in Dubai where she has been residing at for 2 years now. And that already speaks volumes for her creations that are easily taken in by anyone who is a fan of such vibrant energy.
Majo’s dependence on both colours and textures are epitomised in her series Ethnic, whereby key intentions lie in the assessment of the human condition by drawing out inner beauty and strengths of the subjects. Clad in intricately textured Guatemalan outfits, her human figures are all devoid of any facial features, prompting her viewers to look not at the surface, but introspectively at the qualities of mental and emotional states, along with the narratives that accompany each action suggested within their respective titles.
Of course, if one may be perceptive enough to note, Majo’s initiation into her venture was heavily on figurative art. For 20 years now, she has been painting around the globe, and a good bulk of her early years were spent on studying the human forms and movements. Indeed, her prudence shines within her works of today through their diminishing forms and minimalistic retention of outlines and silhouettes, demonstrating her mastery of rendering the figures down to its abstracts.
Like every attempt to redefine their predecessors, Majo Portilla presents her style with a fresh coat of paint – a possible re-emergence of Neo-Impressionism that still serves as a purposeful blast from the past.
Satisfy your colour cravings on Majo Portilla's artist site: