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(Granada 1973)

Pepa Prieto

Vive y trabaja en Brooklyn, Nueva York / Lives and works in Brooklyn, New York

Though at first glance Pepa Prieto’s work might look simply like an especially fresh take on the familiar genres of landscape and still life, closer examination reveals the way that she uses the language of painting to explore memory and personal narratives. Nowhere is her virtuoso approach—the result of academic training—more apparent than in Paisajes Lejanos, 2 (2014).  Here, echoes of nineteenth-century modernist masters reverberate in a painting that seems at once up-close and far away. The title translates as Distant Landscapes, 2, a seeming contradiction to the color and detail evident in the foreground. Exuberantly colored brushstrokes and drips pile one on top of the other in a cacophony of visual information, yet there seems to be an ultimate lack of firm grounding, as the strokes and drips fade toward the bottom of the canvas. Like one of the many late Cézanne painting of Mont Sainte Victoire, there is an indeterminacy in the foreground which prevents the viewer from locating the precise vantage point of the work, and thereby prevents an accurate assessment of just how near or far any single object might be. Indeed, without the title the viewer might miss the pale, unsaturated peaks just below the center line of the canvas, at the left side. Violating the usual viewing habits of vertical perspective, here the mountain tops that seem most distant are nowhere near the top of the composition.


            From the first glance, it is clear that the paintings aren’t mere records of a place or arrangement of objects. Indeed, quite unlike Cézanne, these are not endless formal experiments that use the same subject hundreds of times as a means of experimenting. The harlequin pattern just below the painting’s center, for example, is certainly not any kind of natural landscape feature, and the UFO-like form in the upper right corner adds a whimsical note that is presumably not based on observation (but who knows?!?). So, what are they? I would suggest that they are akin to so-called “memory palaces”, imaginary architectural constructions that can be used to “house” sets of information for easier and more efficient recall. The proximity or distance of an object or gestural mark, the clarity or murkiness of detail, can be seen as analogous to the tricks that memory plays on us all, with its gaps and inconsistencies. The way that the artist has chosen to build her compositions is a tool for retrieval, forging connections between disparate memories and making meaning of them through their visual realignment on the canvas. Each composition tells a new story, and the viewer is invited to do the same, filling in missing information by imagining what objects might be, and what their relationship to one another is. In this way, the paintings act as vehicles for the viewer’s own memory recall and story telling.


This is not to say, of course, that the works are limited by historical reference or restricted to the function of narrative. Prieto has a sense of humor that rewards the careful viewer, which can be seen in the Strange Arrangements series. For example in Strange Arrangements, 5 (2014) we are presented with a straightforward still life. But instead of flowers and other plants, there is a lamp and other, unidentifiable items that seem to be stuck in some kind of umbrella stand. Taking the quiet beauty of traditional still life and transposing it into the mundane world of a dusty closet corner is not only funny – its another reference to the dusty corners of our memories, where things lurk that only rarely see the light of day.


By using timeworn subjects with familiar tropes, the artist similarly creates a fertile ground for experimentation, but whereas Cézanne’s project was largely dedicated to formal experimentation with space, using color, brushstroke, differing levels of detail and other tricks from the historic paint box, Prieto has found a way to recuperate meaning, imbuing the formal gestures with personal significance as she builds intuitive links to her own and other narratives, weaving the stories of her life together with those of others and of the wider world of our own time.


Elizabeth M. Grady, Ph.D.

Program Director, A Blade of Grass




  • MFA, in Painting, University Complutense, Madrid, Spain.

  • Central Saint Martins College, London.U.K

  • Esscola Massana, Barcelona, Spain.





  • " I have not come to see the sky" CCA, Andratx. Center of Contemporary Art, Andratx, Palma de Mallorca, Spain.


  • " Land Ho", Circuit 12 Contemporary Gallery, Dallas, U.S.A.


  • Iguapop Gallery, Barcelona, Spain.


  • Iguapop Gallery, Barcelona, Spain.009

  • Panta Rhei Gallery, Madrid, Spain


  • Centro Principe de Asturias, Madrid.




  • Illusions of a Perfect Utopia: Contemporary Landscape, Walter Maciel Gallery: Los Angeles, CA

  • 2013:

  •  Mykonos Biennale , 21 st June, Greece.

  • "Escape Velocity" Mirus Gallery, SanFrancisco, USA.


  • “Grafika" Institute Cervantes, Algeria.

  • “Surface Pattern” Circuit 12 Gallery, Dallas , USA.

  • “Grafika" Mikser House, Belgrado, Serbia.

  • “Grafika" Institute Cervantes, Belgrado, Serbia.

  • “SuperGrafika" FinestraStudio, Zaragoza, Spain.

  • “Grafika" Institute Cervantes, Sofia, Bugaria.

  • “Grafika" History Museum, Zaragoza, Spain.

  • 2011

  • “Grafika", National Gallery Amman, Jordan.

  • “Grafika”, Villa Audi Foundation, Beirut, Libanon.

  • “Grafika", Institute Cervantes, Bordeaux, France.

  • “Grafika", Institute Cervantes, Madrid, Spain.

  • “ Modern Fabulist”, view Art Gallery. Bristol , U.K.

  • “Imagine Contemporanea”, Zaragoza, Spain.


  • G.Gone.Global, Miami Art Basel , U.S.A.

  • Mural for Primary Flights and le Books , Miami. U.S.A.

  • Monster Childrens Gallery, Australia.


  • BAC. Barcelona Arte Contemporany, Spain.

  • 2008

  •  Hangar 1080, Los Angeles, USA.

  • The River Side, London, England.

  • Edicion Madrid III, Madrid, Spain.


  • "Cultura Urbana 08", Madrid, Spain.

  • “Bread and Butter Barcelona”, Spain





  • "Beautiful Decay", Volume 5, 2011

  • "Picnic", Promo Press , 2011

  • "Side Ways", Die Gelstalten, 2009

  • ‘The Tote Bag’ by Jitesh Patel (published by Laurence King) , 2011

  • "Pepa prieto", Elephant magazine,, 2010.


Selected publication:


  • WAD, IDN, Elle mag , Blonde, AD, Wall Paper Magazine,Foam mag, Elephant, Golden Ride, Rojo mag, El Pais, El mundo, Pasajes diseño,Clone mag, Neo2 mag, Casa Viva, Fecal Face,H mag, On Madrid, El cultural, Golden Ride,Slack mag, Hebe mag, Arte y Diseño, among others.......





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