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La Prensa: The Favelas of Maria Fernanda Vogel


The “Favelas” of Maria Fernanda Vogel Lacayo Porfirio Garcia Romano

Favela is the name given to the precarious and informal settlements that grow around or within the cities of Brazil. The origin of the name favela, appears to refer to towering hills, full of homes that lack basic infrastructure, in places close to Rio de Janeiro, where you could find bountiful amounts of bitter cassava known as mandioca, rugged, of furry leaves and edible seeds, called faveleira.

These human settlements, that lack ownership rights, with conglomerations of houses whose quality falls below the average, without urban services or social equipment, placed in areas that are geologically inadequate or environmentally sensitive, is the topic of a Nicaraguan painter, who appears to grab an infinite amount of boxes of precarious material, squeezed tightly overflowing at the seams.

Maria Fernanda Vogel Lacayo (Managua, 1995), captures in her first painting the double vision of the wild beauty of the huge hills, green vegetation, bays and mild and soft kisses, that the ocean gives on the edges of the beaches of sand or maybe furious kisses smashing against the cliffs; with the unusual combination of the human imprint of the favelas. In summary, the beauty of the natural scenery, unattainable and deep, with the urban agglomeration that invades it.

In a quest to paint the extreme pain, despair and sadness that the people of the wasteland go through every day, Maria Fernanda alludes to the topic of what is urban in the painting. In her work, she embeds a consequential proposal with her series “Favelas”, where the cubed precarious houses, are surrounded by square wrapping, door and windows, lights and shadows, shallow and empty, are hinted at by some plastic elements, squares, lines and colors, which are the common factor, that brings her together her set of paintings

The urban scenery has its best work in El Greco. He apparently initiates the genre with his “Vision of Toledo” from the year 1600, followed by others that innovated and even combined the way to paint throughout the following centuries. Among them: Paul Cezanne, George Braque and Pablo Picasso, the initiators of cubism. The first with his landscapes of L’Estaque and the second with his paintings of Horta of Ebro. The urban landscape, continued to transform itself from the expressionism of Egon Schiele, to the abstract geometric painting of Paul Klee.

What Maria Fernanda Vogel Lacayo represents en her pictorial composition is the urban landscape. A landscape, where the urban objects are suggested with her feelings, placing herself in the lives of the people, their anxieties, dreams, wishes, frustrations and even their upsets and protest because of submission. It’s the relationship of an urban landscape that even though it is found in an unknown reality, is not far from the feelings felt by the people who live in wastelands on the hillsides of Matagala, Nicaragua.

In Maria Fernanda’s work, the small squares represent houses, on occasions one within another, alluding much more than just simple or cold walls and precarious roofs; the human outcast. These serial forms, square, with numerous populations, appear in atmospheres that are warm, cold, or well planted in a contrast of temperature in search for a harmony of colors, insinuating with these shapes and content, a dichotomy between a grandiose, magnificent nature and city intruders.

Through glazes, Maria Fernanda’s brush introduces on the canvas, spaces that represent the sublime, or her filling underlines defining shapes. Her painting “Reflection in the water”, for example, establishes a conversation of warm and cold harmonies, but her painting “Fire in the favela”, shows the red brought on by a sad twilight, brought on by human hand, and the fury


Beyond that, in her paintings she applies nontraditional techniques, such as drip painting, spreading the pigment with spatulas o sticks, without touching the canvas. Such is the case of her painting “Expressions of the city”, where aside from ironizing, according to her words, the presence of the multimillionaire transnationals, represented by the letters of a famous brand, she arranges according to her point of view a contrast with the miserable settlements.

In the painting mentioned, the use of drip painting is not due to being snobbish, instead because of particular intentions of the job, given the fact that they are used to represent impressions of industrial paint in popular works on walls, and graffiti. The result , the reproduction of forms that fill her paintings, as products of the human varnish placed at the same level with the natural varnish of time that spatters on the boroughs.

In her painting “Aerial View”, she establishes a variation in the application of the drip painting. She lets the drops of paint fall and later moves them in various directions with the force of gravity and she moves the canvas horizontally. Earth, water. The crashing of the waves against the coast. Inscrutable shapes, such as a species of tubing or linked underground cups, that appear to explain the clean and dark, daily and complicated businesses of the inhabitants of the urban jungle.

Her allusion to the houses, is sometimes combined with parts of the human anatomy, like in her picture “Earth and Blood”, where she refers to an eye the awakening of the reality of a disjointed world without an exit. Here, her applications of dripped paint do nothing more than illustrate the resignation and tears that appear to come from a vigilant and serene stare. This can be the stare of the author that is aware of the human fact in that urban world over which she’s placed her diaphanous magnifying lens.

In “Graffiti in the Favela”, the sign of square shapes that represent the habitats that play in a dance of light and opposing darkness, referred in the composition of the painting the writing of the spray paint, as Japanese scripture over a stretched surface of rice paper. In “Nothing happens here”, the painting becomes subtle in a complexity, that reveals the success of the vocation of the author.

Added to all of these, are the thoughts and dreams of a fifteen year old girl, Maria Fernanda, who at the beginning of this long race could taste the satisfaction of unloading with her brush what her eye could catch. What she takes from the world starting from her sensibility and passion for the human situations of her surrounding geography. Let’s enter, with the incursion

of Maria Fernanda Vogel Lacayo, in the pictorial expression, in the beginning of her world, which is merely a small dot of a bright future that is to come.

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