Viola (left) with Patricia Paz and some of her works in the exhibition. / A. J.

Pop and kitsch combine at village art hub

The artists' residence, Rara Residencia, in Villanueva del Rosario, hosts an exhibition called Toy Story 5, featuring personal interpretations of childhood memories


After a quiet summer, number 38 Calle Carrera in the inland village of Villanueva del Rosario is bustling again. This is thanks to three artists, Patricia Paz, Nuria López and Viola, who have been working on an exhibition called Toy Story 5, a mixture of pop and kitsch to start the new season.

"It is an immersion into toys, memories and cartoons, with elements that mix the mainstream with the artists' personal experiences," the joint curator of the exhibition, Cyro García, explained about this latest offering from the Rara Residencia project.

The residence is celebrating its third anniversary, and more than 100 artists have passed through during that time. "We want to include all types of artistic expression, so we try to bring different types of creators together," García explained.

Rara Residencia celebra su tercer aniversario como espacio creativo en este pueblo malagueño

The inauguration of the exhibition last week was well attended and Patricia Paz and Viola were both present.

The works, which are displayed on both floors of the house, arouse different feelings in the spectator. The most recognisable, a reinterpretation of characters such as Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh and Heidi, are by Viola, an artist whose figurative works combine cartoons, popular elements converted into paintings and very gestural drawings with the classic concept of pop art.

"I dedicate my work to animation based on theory, I have done a lot of research on popular stories and I draw inspiration from that," he explained.

In the exhibition there is a link between Viola's popular elements and those of Nuria, which are more intimate and kitsch.

Patricia Paz, however, came to Rara Residencia with her 'cowboy' style of art: paintings on canvas, and some portraits. These iconic Hollywood characters are portrayed with her usual use of vibrant colours, capturing the iconography and aesthetics from a very personal and subjective point of view.

"I love being able to exhibit with artists who have nothing to do with what I do, but I feel that the three of us coincide in launching a very powerful and current message," Patricia said.

"I create messages that are very clear to me but which also carry hints for the person looking at them. I really like the symbolism behind the 'cowboy' aesthetic," she said.

The kitsch touch is added by Nuria López. Her work is characterised by very personal underworlds in which quite eclectic elements coexist and they are quite discomfiting to see. She tries to move to dimensions that are familiar and to propose a somewhat naïve view, but the result is ultimately disturbing, because she uses familiar elements created by individuals who are no longer present in her life, to keep them in sight and create a type of modified family album.

These are personal memories but they hark back to the popular culture several decades ago. "A lot of people are uncomfortable with what I do and that interests me. I also make reference to what is socially conceived as feminine; it's an important point that I believe has always been left out. It has been seen as something weak and empty," she has said about her work.

Resident artists

As well as this exhibition, a new season has begun with the arrival of other artists at Rara Residencia. This time, two creators who have already contributed as part of the 'Expedición Lavadero' exhibition have taken up residence: one is Ana Sánchez, whose own universe reveals a major contrast between the realism of the figures and abstract backgrounds, and is open to interpretation. And the other is Mateu, who focuses on language and what is fake combined with the most human side of technology to try to achieve a change in mentality.