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  • Writer's pictureTatiana Ivanova

The magnetic art of Pablo Manrique

From so much loving and walking, works of art are born, that is why the Colombian artist Pablo Manrique does not stop admiring the beauty that grows inside us, which he cultivated when he watched his grandmother painting birds and his mother making architectural designs to hand, together with them he learned the first concepts about drawing and perspective.

His first sketch was a horse, inspired by the riding classes he received in Barranquilla, as a very dear uncle had a horse breed and that is how his interest in competing began. Coupled with this great passion for horse riding, the artist was developing his love for music and painting, he used to animate parties inside and outside of school with his accordion, but because he was thinking a lot about the arts, he was not very applied to say in his studies, that is why he toured various educational establishments.

Due to a serious accident that he had while jumping on horseback, Pablo was forced to stop riding for a while and this led him to explore the nature, strength, energy, of this four-legged animal, until he bare his soul. The result of this dialogue alone with the horses is so amazing that he has managed to represent it in different textures, to the point that it manages to immerse us in romanticism, mythology and that dream world represented by horses.

Pablo Manrique's works have spread throughout the world, in countries such as Russia, the United States of America, Cuba, Brazil (included in the Mario Mendonça Art Institute), and native Colombia (in the Palace of Justice). In 2015 Manrique's work arrived in Bogotá with two exhibitions, one in the National Art Hall in the Casa Cuadrada gallery and the other called Galopa, in the Enrique Grau Museum.

But with Galopa we not only enjoy excellent horses, Manrique proved to be a versatile artist, capable of awakening our emotions through his warriors, the majesty of a peacock, the delicacy of the human body or that prudent soul, with a soft heart. and humble as the Virgin Mary is.

All beauty comes from God

Without a doubt, Pablo Manrique is a globetrotter, his work reflects this, he studied at the Guerrero Art Academy in Bogotá and later at the School of Fine Arts in Havana, Cuba. With the help of his wife of Russian origin, Tatiana Ivanova, I decided to follow in his footsteps to Tiradentes Brazil, where they have resided since 2014.

Pablo, what is the technique you use to paint works like “Caballo de colores” or “Spectrum”? I do not limit myself to working with the same material, I use the one that best serves me to carry out what my inner need asks of me. I can sometimes paint with acrylics, oils, industrial paint, or all together; I enjoy experimenting with different materials, even with wine, soy sauce, or beets. I also enjoy combining and creating textures. I really like it when the work is rich in matter.

How have the artists Grau, Obregón, Villegas, Caballero influenced your work? I have always felt more identified with coastal artists. Perhaps because I was raised on the coast I can come to understand a little their ways of feeling. I grew up among the Maria Mulatas de Grau, and I learned from him to turn images into poetry. Since I was little, I was impressed by the expression in Obregón's line, everything that a single stain can convey to you. At some point I was captivated by the fantastic realism of Villegas, those figures that appear like magic and the mystery that carries his shadow. Thank God I had the opportunity to meet him and work together with him for a season. After I got to know Caballero's work, I painted for two years only in black and white to better understand how light and shadow work. I have never seen a coal with as much force as that of Luis Caballero.

How was the experience of making art far from your country? They say that no one is a prophet in their own land, and being far from my land I have come to understand a little better that Biblical phrase. I think that when we travel to a new place, all our senses naturally open up more to us and the way we receive all that new information is different, and I like that. The same when a native hears a foreigner speak. Differences always attract us.

Although leaving your people to paint new horizons is not easy. I learned to heal only my own wounds and to continue playing my accordion vallenatos in lands where no one knows the lyrics.

What has been your biggest challenge in trying to represent the vitality of the horses, their purity, their movements? I am passionate about the anatomy of this animal. For me, their forms carry the true meaning of harmony. The smooth line of her back is also found in the silhouette of a woman, in a vase of flowers or in the waves of the sea. I think her soul is a reflection of ours, so the biggest challenge is to be able to connect both through movement, color and stain.

Your horses fly in the heights, how have you achieved this effect? I think it has been sharing with them. I remember when I was little that I used to camp in the fields where they grazed. There I felt very good. He talked with them and even cried with them. I looked at them without time, I was inspired by their calm, and watched the mane in the wind as if they were flying. They invited me to dream, to be free.

And how did you go from horses to warriors? Since I was little Master Villegas's warriors caused me a great intrigue about how to do magic with painting, I was very curious to discover how he did it. When I heard him talk about them, I felt very identified, he said that we are all warriors in this life, that we get up daily to fight for our money, our food, and to overcome all the problems of day to day. My warriors are spiritual, their only defense or attack weapon is love, which is beauty.

That is why I would never like to stop painting my own warriors, as if wanting to keep the Master alive.

Why this irresistible call to immortalize the image of the Virgin?

I am a Catholic, by studying the things of God they taught me to see the Virgin Mary in all women. The capacity to love that a mother has is the one that comes closest to the unconditional love of God. Once, wanting to find a perfect model to help me paint a series of virgins, I found the woman who is my wife today. I feel strongly the presence of the Virgin Mary in my life always. And sometimes I associate that feminine energy with the moon or with Tatiana my wife.

Finally, how do you manage to conceive your works? My creative process is divided into three Important parts. The first is prayer. I believe that all beauty comes from God because God is beauty. The second part has very little to do with reason. It is more intuitive, spontaneous, accidental, abstract, free. As if wanting to let my soul say what my head does not know. And finally I enter with the academic part, putting into practice all my knowledge about the technique, and all the theories learned along the way, always leaving space to experience new things. I never think about the time when painting, my only concern is to be honest with myself and make an effort to satisfy that inner need regardless of the time it takes, whether it is painting a horse or a virgin. Sometimes I want to paint what I see; sometimes what I don't see, but always with the same thirst to know myself.

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