Tender Loving Paradise
Solo Exhibition featuring Marilou Solano
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Some may think of paradise as an absolute ideal. A biblical, social, or spiritual haven housing all our notions of ultimate peace and happiness. In her works, Marilou Solano conceives a paradise painted in a more personal light – vast, curious, and altogether brimming with a gentle warmth. For the artist, this stems from feelings of desire, of helplessness, cruelty, and loss. What better escape is there from the realities of life than to dream of paradise?
In Tender Loving Paradise, Marilou Solano paints surreal scenes of whimsy, introspection, and calm, unraveling her own version of paradise. She blends elements of abstraction and characters from her own imagination in paintings that may be part self-portrait, part window into a dreamlike landscape. In the artist’s words, the canvas is her “alternate world.”
Solano takes inspiration from Japanese folklore in her works, depicting the kodama, or tree spirits, playfully bustling about her canvases. The kodama are said to bring either blessings or a curse. Similarly, there is an aura of both innocence and the macabre in each painting. Solano’s narratives recall childlike fantasies of playing with one’s imaginary friends. Yet with the idea of paradise comes the implication of death. Black spirits roam each work, contrasting against each light pastel backdrop, and gentle tendrils sprout up from black skulls rooted in the earth. Black figures inspired by Hayao Miyazaki’s character No-Face dance with the kodama. Here, life and death do not clash. Rather, they live in harmony as each figure peacefully coexists with the other.
Solano’s paradise is one where the imagination runs boundless. Where spirits are at play and creatures of all kinds, from doglike hybrids to tall cloaked forms, are at one amidst an alien landscape. Paradise is something manifested from within, and for all its eccentricities, it flows abundant with love.
– Text by Mara Fabella