Cristina Fonollosa (© César Julián)

Cristina Fonollosa (Barcelona, 1951) is a painter, engraver and illustrator.

Through the naive style, also called primitive or naive, she reinterprets the imaginary of common life, from an original, fantastic and poetic perspective, expressing love, abandonment, desire, solitude, play. Her subjects ranges from family scenes of mothers with children to landscapes of Mediterranean islands, Almodovarian biblical scenes, West Indian bedrooms, mermaids invented from Caribbean folklore or patron virgins of books, cats, planets or rare animals.

Her illustrations and engravings have accompanied works and stories by Spanish and Latin American writers such as Antonina Rodrigo, Mercedes de Prat, Dulce María Loynaz, Alfonso Sánchez or Luís Caissés.

She has illustrated in the style of the old “aucas” (illustrated lives narrated in verse) the lives of Antonio Machado (commissioned by the Government of Andalucía, Spain); of Mercedes de Prat de Rodríguez Aguilera; of Spanish poet Miguel Hernández (commissioned by the Fundación Miguel Hernández, Alicante); of José María Hinojosa (commissioned by the Generación del 27 Cultural Center, Malaga); of de processions of May in Holguín (commissioned by the Hermanos Saiz Association, Cuba); and of José María “El Tempranillo”, among others.

Born in Barcelona, she grew up in a family environment of plastic artists, and was soon attracted to the naive style she discovered from Rousseau and the French primitives.

She studied at the Massana School of Arts and Crafts in Barcelona and took various training courses in engraving and screen printing.

She has held the position of Vowel of engraving of the FAD (Department of Promotion of the Decorative Arts, Barcelona), and as a jury of multiple and international painting competitions.

She has been a teacher of plastic for higher cycles at the Blanquerna school (Ramon Llull University, Barcelona) and since 1985 as a professor in workshop on painting, watercolor, oil, drawing, engraving, paper mache sculpture and various crafts (big heads, masks, modernist stained glass windows) , etc.) in public and private institutions (such as helping poor sectors such as drug addicts or prisoners) in Spain and Cuba.

Currently in Cuba, her habitual place of residence, she works as a journalist in cultural sections of radio and television, as a disseminator of plastic arts and a recovering of historical personalities; and at the renowned Gibara International Film Festival, as radio spokesperson for the eastern sector of the island. She collaborates in the Artes por Excelencias magazine with interviews with personalities from the world of art and culture.

Cristina Fonollosa in 1983

Her first exhibition took place in Barcelona, in 1980, in the mythical Pop Art Specialist Store, Populart, run by the precursor of popular art, María Antonia Pelauzi.

Later she has exhibited in multiple locations in Spain, Europe and Latin America, highlighting The International Museum of Naïve Art in Jaén (Spain); the Ana y Albert Laporte MAN International Museum of Naïve Art in Beraut (France); the Amahoro Gallery, by Gerald Mouial, on the island of Saint-Martin (French Caribbean); the Gran Teatro de La Habana (Cuba) or the Montserrat Gallery in New York.

Some of the prizes received for her painting are: the Engraving Prizet of the Ateneo de Sevilla (Spain); the Prize of illustration in the Caterina Albert i Paradís, in Barcelona (Spain); of painting in the Iberoamerican Salon Electa Arenal in Holguín (Cuba); in the First Exhibition of Religious Painting (Holguín); of painting in the Barcelona Gallery, Barcelona; and one of the most relevant prizes in Cuban art: the Angelote de Oro award, in Holguín.

Cristina Fonollosa occupies a prominent place among the most representative visual artists of her generation, both for its varied and authentic themes and for the wide, global, territorial fringe that it has encompassed and encompasses today.

Cristina Fonollosa (Galeria Carles Vallès, Figueres 1990)

In the words of the writer and literary and theatrical critic, Roberto Pérez León: “Cristina’s paintings are like the ark of the alliance. When they run aground on a wall, the whole house enjoys the incessant evolution of a figuration that is neither primitive, naive, naive, nor popular; nothing of that; each painting by Cristina is a creative event and as such is an act of resistance, a magnetic archipelago of forms that act as waves of verses that produce the effects of kindness. I have in my Havana house a wooden egg painted by Cristina and I have a small kite that has a large kite tail that splashes stars; the kite is blue, not like the sea but like the vigorous blue of the Cuban nights; and, the egg is of an unprecedented power, from time to time it moves in the midst of a phosphorescent fullness and I know, I am sure that it has a cat named Vinagrito inside. ”

According to the poet and writer Eliecer Almaguer: “How natural you are, Cristina, your work emanates from the soul as the wise woman flows in the depths of the tree, you are nature itself, sometimes vegetal softness, other times animal fierceness, or a volcano that lies deep in the earth waiting to set us on fire with its lava, your paintings have that tone of flowing and bubbling lava, the original fire tint, adamish, or better, evenish. In addition you are not something later, you could never be something posthumous, your work belongs to life, belongs to the air, to the stellar dance, to a multicolored palette that offers us its multiple view of the cosmos, the enduring grace with which they move, spaces rotate and reorder, on this singular and rolling planet.”

The poet and cultural promoter Belkis Méndez wrote about her illustrations: “in 2012, Ediciones La Luz, one of the most prestigious publishers in Cuba and based in the city of Holguín, published,“Como el sorbo de agua”, a book that collected seven letters sent to me by the Cervantes Prize Dulce María Loynaz, during the years from 1990 to 1991. The illustrations were made by the Catalan painter Cristina Fonollosa. Each one of them has the quality of entering a suggestive, feminine world, ranging from the chandelier, the scarf, the cups, the embroidery and lace. The artist emphasizes the quality of Loynaz, as a woman and lover of the waters, but always clinging to the land, to the house, that is to say, homeland, sacred ground that saw her birth and die, the island.”

Cristina Fonollosa in 2005

The writer and journalist Rubén Rodríguez talks about the work of Cristina Fonollosa in his article “The eleven thousand virgins of Cristina Fonollosa”: “Between fun and informed I faced Cristina’s latest exhibition. I was stunned by their virgins, most of them apocryphal. I swear that I looked for them in the Saints calendar and they do not appear anywhere. Not even the Vatican knows where these madonnas of this Catalan painter from Holguín came from. Among her eleven thousand virgins are the virgin of the KKK, of Hell, of mermaids; she painted to the Mediterranean one exquisite virgin fanning with the gay flag and made others for Adam and Eve, for books and the telephone … among which “the real ones” stroll around astonished.”

And, as a colophon, the writer, journalist and film critic Erian Peña Pupo, wrote: “Cristina Fonollosa’s painting bewitches since -ingenuous we never get the pieces we observe- we approach her with the curiosity and mystery of who discovers something new. We are approaching wanting to unravel something that she offers us alive, palpable, happy, real … several themes, such as public obsessions are recurring in her work: conscious femininity, which places women at the center of her lyrical gaze, cats, sea, moon, island, flowers … The sea – the Mediterranean, the Caribbean – overflows her work. She has opted for both, since the sea, the island in the middle of the sea, always accompanies her. There the Mediterranean light meets, happily, with the Holguín light. And in both places the moon shines. There is no other way than to be bewitched by the gaze of this woman who takes us for a walk through her domain, outlining a mischievous smile on her face, because she knows that there is no better mystery than that which is shown to everyone.

Painting the “Loma de la Cruz” (Holguín 2014)