Mi Vida – My Art, the Pilar Pobil retrospective at Weber State University’s Stewart Library, is appropriately named: as will be clear to anyone that visits the show, Pobil’s life and art are deeply and inextricably intertwined. Viewing Pobil’s work feels like a visual autobiography. She opens her mind, thoughts, and experiences to her viewers, authentically and honestly.
Works like “I Was Born From the Sea with a Paint Brush in my Hand,” “El Mensaje De las Palomas,” “The Procession of Holy Week,” and a sculpture of Francisco Franco’s daughter, are inspired by Pobil’s life in Spain, where she was born and raised (see a 15 Bytes profile of the artist here). Others reflect her observations of individuals and moments. “El Pajero Quetzal” was inspired by a woman Pobil met in Mexico who shared with her a story about the Quetzal, a sacred bird of the ancient Mayas and Aztecs. The welcoming and playful moment in “First, a Coffee!” was inspired by two women Pobil met in an elevator in Barcelona. In the painting, one woman faces the viewer while the other is seen in profile; each holds a steaming cup in their hands. The woman looking out at the viewer has one hand raised, fingers spread, at shoulder level in a conversational manner. It feels like these two good friends have invited you into their group and are now conveying all the latest news of the neighborhood over a hot cup of coffee.
Pobil’s women are particularly refreshing. They feel honest and real. They are not objects, nor are they submissive and sexualized. Pobil’s women are strong and loud. They are confident and sure of their place in the world. This is apparent in “The Dames of the Round Table,” which depicts five women, Elizabeth Warren, Michelle Obama, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Rachel Maddow, and Maxine Waters, seated around a table each looking out at the viewer with confidence, as if inviting the viewer to take a seat and join in their fight for equality. This point is enhanced by the use of King Arthur’s fabled round table, which has no head and implies that all who sit at it are equals. The piece is energetic and powerful.
“The Dames of the Round Table” is enhanced by 3-D elements: four of the five women have small, jeweled earrings; Maxine Waters and Ruth Bader Ginsberg have brooches hooked on their clothing; and Michelle Obama has a jeweled hairclip. These little jewels give the piece extra texture and add to its energy. Pobil utilizes a similar technique in “The Twilight of Mother Earth,” an ethereal work that depicts mother earth with streaks of silver in her hair. She sits full of sadness and contemplation over the way humans have mistreated her. The jewels in this work become the stars of a night sky. They pop off the canvas to remind the viewer of the beauty that nature holds.
These little 3D elements along with Pobil’s painted frames, each of which perfectly responds to the painting it holds, give Pobil’s work a little extra vibrancy and passion. No surface is off-limits when it comes to Pobil’s artistic career; from the frames of her paintings to the furniture and doors of her home, her life is covered in paint. Her painting style, use of color, and hunger for art, that exposes itself in every facet of her life, create a space of energy. Pilar Pobil’s Mi Vida – My Art is unique, ardent and refreshing.
Mi Vida – My Art,