Becky Soria - A Closer Look at "Seeding, Blooming, Renewal: New Paintings by Becky Soria" at Archway Gallery, Houston
After a recent visit to Becky Soria’s studio where I saw her newest paintings, I decided to share a few images, and to pass on to readers a couple of things I know about Becky’s art.
Becky’s newest works can be seen in Seeding, Blooming, Renewal: New Paintings by Becky Soria at Archway Gallery, located at 2305 Dunlavy Street in Houston. The exhibition is October 4, 2019, through October 31, 2019, with an opening reception on Saturday, October 5, 5-8 pm.
First and foremost, Becky is a superb colorist. I first noticed her dramatic use of color in 2011, when she fashioned abstracted human figures, the painting Warrior comes to mind, with cerulean and cobalt blues, and pure crimson and cadmium reds. The next year, I tracked her handling of color over the course of multiple exhibitions, however the one that stopped me in my tracks was the 2012 show Primitive at Redbud Gallery. Stylistically inspired by Paleolithic cave art, the forms were delineated with glazes of crimson, vermillion and magenta. I will never forget the glittery reds in the painting Bison.
Becky and I discussed her use of reds in a 2013 interview. She admitted being drawn to warmer tones which jerk the emotions, and delighted in the fact that the use of red and yellow ochre dated back to the Paleolithic era. “I have an instinct for reds in all its combinations, they come naturally to me. They do hold symbolism, I use them to portray strength, passion, mystery, life. In general I am drawn to earth colors.”
Another important thing to know about Becky’s art is that it is heavily inspired by the human figure, which she replicates in exceedingly distorted form. Within the vibrant colors, unexpected textures and irregular forms are echoes of human biology. They speak of blood, muscle and bone, while some fluid markings suggest squishy entrails and sinewy tissue. As recent as August of this year, I associated the undecipherable forms exhibited at G Gallery with cellular structures.
Becky acknowledged her strong interest in physical bodies. It led her to a career in nursing. Her father was a prominent physician and poet in Cochabamba, Bolivia, a fact that also impacted her art. “I inherited his love for biology, which is evident in my paintings.”
This interest in biology helps to explain the strong organic quality of the new paintings, with allusions to female reproductive parts, more broadly, to death and regeneration. But they must be dissected on a deeper level, she foregoes direct representation, she distorts and abstracts, to reach for the essence of the object. I interpreted a statement from 2012 to mean precisely that: “Most of my images, but not all, are of women, although many male figures, and an abundance of animals, inhabit my pictures as well. But it is woman, as earth and goddess that is the focus of my work. It is her anatomy, her biological capabilities and frailties, her distinctive pains and pleasures, her sexuality and aging, her chthonic status, her tears, her peculiar psychological turns and her existential status, that I attempt to capture in my paintings.”