Categories: Cornelia Feye, THE BUZZ

THE BUZZ: In Blue Time – Tatiana Ortiz-Rubio’s Exciting Interpretation of ‘Parable of the Sower’

June 24, 2024

by Cornelia Feye

Blue is the color of the sky and of water. But for artist Tatiana Ortiz-Rubio it is also the color of memory.

            In the painting Parable of the Sower, a Dutch landscape painting by Pieter Brueghel, featuring the figure of a farmer sowing his field in the foreground, a river in the middle ground, and distant, blue mountains in the background, is Tatiana Ortiz-Rubio’s favorite painting in the Timken’s collection. It’s not so much the foreground with the sower that interests her. To her, the foreground is like the raw, and gritty contradictions of present reality before they get softened by memory. Ortiz-Rubio loves Brueghel’s painting because of its sense of distance, where the far away mountains along the horizon line become almost abstract in the hazy, blue atmospheric perspective. To her, the horizon line is a metaphor for memory on the verge of forgetting—the tipping point where a past event slips out of our grasp and disappears into the large reservoir of forgotten moments.

            “Forgetting is important or else we couldn’t think,” the artist says.

            Memories are not accurate. Often, they are romanticized or vilified.  

            “Each time we remember, we are retelling the story. The more often we remember, the more the story changes from the original occurrence. This is important in a world where we are questioning truth,” Ortiz-Rubio explains, citing the book Rigor of Angels by William Egginton.

Paintings are manifested, tangible memories of a time and place seen through the eyes of the artist. They are not historical facts and dates, but lived time, including the emotions and the perspective of a person inhabiting this time and space. These visual memories don’t change. They are like time capsules, or windows into another era. What changes is our perception of them.

            Through her residency and her work in the Timken’s galleries, Tatiana Ortiz-Rubio hopes to expand the viewers perception of the Parable of thew Sower, and help visitors see it through new eyes. This expansion is already a visible reality in the form of a mural behind the painting.  It continues and mirrors the blue mountains of the background onto the wall of the Dutch gallery taking up all the space as if to draw us into the endless horizon of this long past memory of a landscape.

            Ortiz-Rubio’s has been interested in murals since she grew up surrounded by them in Mexico City. They have been a part of her visual and cultural experience. She created her first mural in 2018 for a temporary installation at Bread & Salt Gallery in San Diego. Other works by Ortiz-Rubio have appeared at Centro Cultural Tijuana (CECUT) in the Zona Río district of Tijuana, Mexico, the Athenaeum Music and Arts Library and Quint Gallery, and on the Orchid Building in the Normal Heights neighborhood of San Diego.

            Ortiz-Rubio’s residency at the Timken consists of two projects. Besides the mural behind the Brueghel painting, she is painting three large blue canvases for a separate gallery. These works are more personal interpretations of loss of memory. We eventually forget trauma, but also forget the good parts of the past. Forgetting means to distill time. When memories are at the edge of being forgotten only feeling remains, the visual images are gone. Tatiana has memories of her daughter as a baby, when she couldn’t sleep for months on end, and her memory is as hazy as the state between wakefulness and sleep.

            For this separate gallery, she also created smaller paintings of blue clouds and fractured memories in the form of strips of clouds and mountains. Joyful or painful memories can be seen in different ways, side by side.

            Another part of her project will be a recent large-scale pencil drawing which was the result of a collaborative project with the musical composer Stefan Cwik and inspired by the concept of time, thereby connecting with the summer’s In Blue Time theme.

            Besides providing a fresh look at one of the Timken’s most beloved paintings, Ortiz-Rubio hopes that “visitors will also see the possibility of a different perspective on memory and time.”

Residency inspired by Pieter Brueghel’s Parable of the Sower, 1557
Part of the Timken Permanent Collection
Artist Residency: June 5 – 28, 2024

On View: July 17-September 29, 2024

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