On the occassion of the new show of Marianela de la Hoz at Noel Baza gallery we are re-posting this article by Lonnie Hewitt first printed in the La Jolla Light.
Now that it’s fall, here’s something to fall for: two fascinating
shows featuring the work of Marianela de la Hoz, a Mexican artist who
has been living in North County for the past decade. South of the
border, her style might be called “magic realism.” Here, we’d call it
De la Hoz, who uses egg tempera (a labor-intensive medium popular in
the Middle Ages) to create striking miniatures, illustrates subjects
that might seem familiar to medieval monks. But she puts a 21st-century
spin on the ancient themes.
She is currently one of seven artists featured in Mesa College Art
Gallery’s eye-popping “Seven Deadly Sins” exhibition, where she has
eight, postcard-size pieces on view — one for each sin, and one for the
devil, the Seducer who introduced humans to sin. The pieces are wickedly
amusing, and wickedly well painted in tiny hairline brushstrokes that
invite close attention to the details. They’re a thoughtful response to
the message they convey.
In the show’s catalog, De la Hoz confessed to expressing violence
through fantasy, black humor, even sarcasm. “My work is based on reality
and the paintings confront today’s troubled times,” she wrote. “I am
inspired by … the eternal combination of good and bad in everyone, the
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde within ourselves.”
What her work is really based on is the strict Catholic- schooling of her girlhood.
“The nuns taught me everything was horrible, that all men were
sinful, and the only good thing a woman had was her virtue, which men
were always trying to take from her,” she said. “Ten years of therapy
brought me back to life, and I started painting. Now I’m glad I went to
that school, because it gave me my themes.”
When an artist friend told her about egg tempera, it was love at
first sight. She learned the basic technique from a how-to book by
Renaissance artist Cennino Cennini. She kept reading and practicing and
never looked back.
Mesa Gallery Director Alessandra Moctezuma — a direct descendant of
the Aztec emperor — has been following De la Hoz’s work for years. “She
taught herself how to work like the Old Masters, mixing pure powder
pigments with egg yolk. This isn’t something that’s taught in schools.
It’s very time-consuming and expensive. But Marianela’s pieces are so
The recent heatwave presented new problems, with the temperature
soaring so high that the egg yolks cooked. De la Hoz had to add a more
modern ingredient — ice cubes — as she put the finishing touches on
“Heaven and Earth,” the altarpiece for her solo show at San Diego Museum
of Art that will go on display Oct. 13, in conjunction with a 15th-
century “Madonna and Child” by Carlo Crivelli. “Heaven and Earth,”
which took the artist a year of 10-hour days and 7-day weeks to
complete, is made up of 11 paintings — 10 smallish ones surrounding a
four-foot-tall centerpiece she calls “the biggest miniature I’ve ever
It portrays a very modern Eve, surrounded by life choices — the seven
sins again, and their equally sinful opposites: Pride and Self- Hatred;
Wrath and Masochism; Greed and Superficial Charity; Envy and Idolatry;
Gluttony and Anorexia; Lust and Repression; Sloth and Hyperactivity.
It is full of delightfully irreverent Marianelisms: God resting from
creation in a hammock while Eve and Lilith (her dark side) feed Adam an
apple; then the apple transmuted into apple pie, food for judgmental
friars. And the baby on Mother Eve’s belly is the artist’s grandson,
reaching out to the baby Jesus in Crivelli’s “Madonna and Child.”
There’s an apple in the Crivelli painting, too. But, De la Hoz
pointed out, “when an apple appears with the Virgin, it represents hope.
In fact, Mary is called ‘The New Eve.’ ”
She included a hopeful image of her own in “Heaven and Earth” — a
heart and a brain, on a golden scale. “I’m always looking for balance,
the Golden Mean, in my life and my paintings,” she said.