Catalina Viejo López de Roda was born in Malaga, Spain, and grew up in the Canary Islands. She went to boarding school in Dublin, Ireland and at the age of 18 came to the US to attend Montserrat College of Art. She received an MFA from Hunter College and moved to Hudson after graduating. She has been living in the US for over 20 years.
López de Roda works in a variety of mediums including painting, collage, drawing, sculpture, moving image, multi-panel installations, animation, and photography. “I try everything possible to convey different ideas,” she says.
Acceptance dazzles the eye with vivid colors, different textures, and multiple layers of reality. She explains, “I like to incorporate illusion so that the viewer can discover things. It keeps them on their toes.”
At times her work brings to mind Spanish surrealists. “I’m hugely inspired by art history, and would sometimes look at Dali. I like surrealism, but I’m more inspired by magic realism. It’s important to look and learn from the past, but I try to respond to the events in my life and other artists in my community. I’m a contemporary artist,” she says.
As a part of her Self Care series, the images in Acceptance are completely fabricated collages. While none of it is actually real, López de Roda says it’s important that the viewer can believe the image and feel like they can step into it. She describes her process.
“I take photos on nature hikes or get ideas from the internet. When I have the images, I bring them into Photoshop and put together a composition. Then I make a graphite charcoal drawing, and then a small painting. I’m currently working on a large version of Acceptance with three-dimensional plates. I tend to use the same image over and over. Every time I break it up, it helps me see how the image can change with the mediums.”
López de Roda expresses multiple ideas throughout her work. In Acceptance we see two hands in the foreground putting a female face painted on a broken plate back together again.
“In Japan, when things break, instead of hiding it, they highlight it with gold. The process is known as kintsugi. Breaks are celebrated and can be turned into something beautiful. I love that. I’m also inspired by the Japanese concept of Wabi-sabi, which is an attitude about appreciating imperfect beauty which relates to the theme of this painting. Self-acceptance involves a realistic awareness of one’s strengths and weaknesses. Finally, the reflected landscape on the table is a reminder that we can change our viewpoint to better understand ourselves. It’s very layered. I’m never thinking about just one thing.”
When asked what she likes about living and working in the Hudson Valley, López de Roda says, “I moved to Hudson because I knew there was a really strong arts community. I love that it’s close to nature and close to the city. You can go up to Olana and the sky is completely different, depending on the weather. I love that you can see great distances, which is very different from the city.”
In terms of how her work has evolved she says, “Pre-pandemic, I painted multiple figures. Lately, it’s been a single woman, and more outdoor scenes have made their way into my work. It’s interesting to see how the events of the last few years have filtered into my work and how I’ve reacted to them on an artistic level. I may not be able to control the outside world, but I can control how I respond to it, and that’s a powerful realization.”
Catalina Viejo López de Roda has work on display at Hudson Hall in an exhibit with other artists called “Look Again” through April 10.