These are editions of etchings, woodcuts, silkscreens and collagraphs. Usually they are printed on Rives BFK paper, 280 gm. Editions go from 10/10 to 50/50 the tirage. Sizes vary from 5x5 in. up to 23x28 in. the largest ones.
“Barragan’s etching techniques reflect the intense exploration inherent in all her work. Using a non tradicional application of the different techniques, the result is different and innovative. For example, she begins by deeply etching the zinc plate with abstract forms, frequently powerful spirals. With each print that she makes from the plate, she chooses to ink the plate differently (a la poupee) or collage elements such as rice paper or gold leaf (chine collé). The final result is an edition comprised of unique and thoughtful variations on her initial design.”
These drawings are small (20 x 16 ins) and large sized (10 x 10 ft or 23 x 4 ft), done with black chinese ink and tempera on white cotton paper. Some of them were created for music and dance escenography.
Paula says: "For me, drawing has become a sharp way of watching life, a powerful exploration tool which invents, remembers, describes and analyzes. Drawing is like using a new language with other subtleties and non verbal descriptions, finding visual eloquence to portrait characters that yearn to steal some energy from life’s briefness- while eating, sleeping or running like wild imaginary beasts. Or, silently sitting, waiting for something to happen, or joyfully riding on the back of an iguana. "My drawings explore humanity racing towards unattainable goals or they could represent the adventures and misfortunes of my own generation. I work on subjects that allow me to tell my own story and the way I see others, such as animals, actions, people, who live sometimes trapped by physical limitations or excessive shyness… "
Referring to this drawings, journalist Milagros Aguirre wrote: "Once the Pandora box is opened the story unfolded naturally: pedestrians and landscapes emerged and could be seen from the bus as well as the mice plague running through the garden. Shapes emerged where fears and anguish met with irony, sarcasm and humor."
The majority of Paula Barragan´s paintings have been shown and sold in New York where she worked with Multiple Impressions Gallery, from 1994 to 2010. She paints with oil on canvas, and sizes range from 1x1 ft. up to 4x4 ft.
Multiple Impressions Gallery director, Kate Bilman, wrote the following about her work: “An artist of terrific dedication and brilliant talent, Barragan’s career is blossoming. Her bold graphic work and book illustration, her stylish rug design and predominantly her sophisticated, sumptuous paintings lend her the reputation of a renaissance woman whose talents are multi-faceted and deeply accomplished. Barragan has been around the world, studying in New York, Paris and San Francisco and now is back in Quito, Ecuador where she is actively involved in the arts and gathers inspiration for her work from her vibrant cultural history and surroundings. In these new paintings, the artist¹s inner and outer experiences become her subjects, being delved and developed for their shape and color. Depth is created through explorations of perception and angles with an almost cubist sensibility. Simultaneously, delicate drawings carved into the surface of the paint hint at a kind of autobiographical storytelling and visual texture.
In a kaleidoscope of divisions, contrasts, and relationships Barragan¹s canvases are saturated with life energy, vibrancy and a thick, vital opacity. On some canvases areas of light and translucent space temper intense shocks of brilliant color and form. In other paintings solid deep colors glow like gems yet to be mined, the inside of a ripe papaya or underwater depths. She paints in layers, each layer carrying part of the story which will be revealed in different ways at different times in the painting. Barragan scrapes through the layers, creating textures and images, revealing the under-painting in bright and contrasting color. In each instance there is solidity; each part becomes an indispensable part of the whole. The finished painting is coated with encaustic beeswax to complete the look -- the lustrous, leathery, complex surface.
I started using the computer in 1986 when I won a first prize in the poster Biennial in Quito, and was given my first Macintosh. For many years I used it only for graphic design and illustration, but slowly with time, this fantastic tool has become an essential part of my creative process.
Since school I had been working on collages made of coloraid paper, textiles and gouash, and with the computer I proceded to scan these pieces, work on top of them with illustrator and then save them with many drawings, designs, illustrations, logos, sketches, and ideas. Now this has become a very big personal archive that I use to change, reproduce, cut, paste and turn on and off as I wish. These are images that I recycle, and recreate all the time, the same as a manual collage.
Then I print these files with the very fine printing processes that is of incredible quality, using pigment over fine cotton paper (300 gm.) in editions of 10 or 15.
This medium is full of new possibilities that I discover when working day to day. It is so full of interesting tricks. Examples; you can bring colours from another piece, or multiply the feathers of a bird! I can now work faster, you have it now altogether and the big studio is not necesary for this type of artwork, nor the toxic solvents, or the messy glues. The mouse becomes a point , a brush, a pencil, and the ideas multiply themselves.
I think this is a legitimate tool, the changing of processes, is an important part of living. And I feel also that it opens a whole new land with no limits. This does not mean it will replace any of the other traditional mediums. They will keep exsisting with their own enchantment, hopefully forever! And I will keep drawing, painting and printing too.
The collage pieces are one of a kind.
The carpets are woven following Paula Barragan´s etchings, paintings and unique ink designs. They are made out of pure lamb´s wool, totally hand woven by artisans in Ambato, Ecuador. Knitted with 68,000 knots by square meter (3.3 sq. ft.) and with a thickness going from 1 to 2 in. in height, they usually present two levels, thus creating texture and relief. A carpet measuring 6 x 6 square feet takes an average of about a month to be woven. Sizes vary from 3 ft. up to 14ft. wide by the length desired. These are unique carpets. Only one is woven from each design.
Paula Barragan obtained her BFA in design and illustration from Pratt Institute, New York, in 1986. Since 1987 she works in her studio in Quito, where she designs carpets, logos, posters, illustrations and book covers. Paula was the Art Director for the large sized books, "Artesanías del Ecuador" and "Ecuador Viva la Fiesta", by Pablo Cuvi. She has illustrated five Children´s Books published in the US by Lee & Low and August House, obtaining the following awards:
-Nappa Gold Award, for "Spicy Hot Colors". -Best of the Best List, Chicago Public Library, for "Love to Mama" and for "Poems to Dream Together". -ALA notable children´s book award for "Poems to Dream Together". -In 2006 with Azuca Graphic Design Studio she designed Ecuadors logo for the Turism Ministery. In 2011 she was choosen to design the chocolate box and Christmas card for Nestle Switzerland, which was distributed around the world.
She has obtained the following design awards:
- First prize, Nacional Poster Biennial, Quito, 1994 - First prize, National Biennial of Design, Quito, 2002, Book category - First prize, National Biennial of Design, Quito, 2004, Illustration category
Casa de Munecas, a collective project created by Paula Barragan that used sewing as a means of expression. It reunited a group of thirty women coming from diverse backgrounds and ages. Starting from a basic pattern, each participant created a different doll, human size, representing their own personal story of love or frustration, joy and humor.
Lola Almohada, was created for Pillow Pageant, a collective show organized by Gallery 111, Dumbo, NY. Paula designed and sewed with cotton a variable body which molds to the emotions and the positions of the sleeper. The doll can sit, lie down or be hung from the ceiling.
The Site Center Mural, a three dimensional wooden mural measuring 23 x 10 feet. Based on a paper collage created by Paula and reproduced by expert carpenters.
Arbol de Vida, this mural was hand painted by five artists following Paula’s design to decorate the ceiling of the radiation ward at the Metropolitan Hospital in Quito.
Puppets, is a dance project by Carla Barragan. Based on Paula’s drawings, Carla created the dancer’s costumes and choreographies.
Corazon, this piece made of threads and fabric, illustrates an article that talks about the emotions of the heart.
Iemanyá, created for Inspirato Corpo, a collective show presented in the X International Biennale of Cuenca. Terrible contamination makes the sea return a lot of plastic waste to the shores, Paula picked up the waste and put together a dress for XXI century Iemanyá.