Ana María Velasco creates maps that outline her travels through earthy and spiritual worlds in her paintings and drawings. Her painting practice is a relational one. Relationship of herself as a body to place, nature, materials, objects, thoughts, people and memories. The dreamlike paintings stem from her need to record the seen and unseen world. She gathers information through observation and experience then shares evidence from her encounters. Born in Colombia, Velasco often approaches the country, its biodiversity, its politics, and its people as a foundation for her visual vocabulary. Her curiosity extends into investigations of our dependent existence.
During the last decade La Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in Colombia has been the motif of Velasco’s artistic and personal investigation. Building relationships and engaging with the place and all those who inhabit it, through a series of landscapes, she creates impressions of moments in time during her climbs through this mountain range.
The non-objective colors, contrast of light and dark, and imaginative perspectives she employs reveal an other-worldly connection. Learning to appreciate these elements as perceived by those who care for their habitats, Velasco was guided in preparing physical offerings to bring to specific places in this land. Assemblages of goods were meant to create unity among the realms. With her artworks, she continues this practice of honoring nature and extending gratitude.
The smaller paintings from the series Pagamentos praise the portals she’s been given access to in nature. The appearance of these instants guarantees that they will disappear, the same way in which everything that arises in the mind is always subjective to change. These paintings become important gestures of truth and trust. Observation is vital to her day to day experience. Not concerned with scientific accuracy, Velasco paints her vision of the place through the lens of intimate communion.
Moved by the social-protests, economic strife, and Covid-19 global pandemic, she began her current series of Naturaleza Muerta del Paisaje. The eye-catching backgrounds of the small-scale still lifes vibrate in contrast to the arrangements of multi-colored tropical fruits, flowers, animals, objects and sometimes people from Velasco’s childhood and daily life. These visually enticing works serve as prayers that carry socio-political, environmental, and spiritual significance and are an extension of her attempt to make sense of the world. She is interested in the interdependent existence of her subjects as perceived in these arrangements that wish to prove that all phenomena and perception is dependent arising therefore interconnected and self liberating.
The artist’s devotion to the natural world manifests in paintings of threatened creatures Rewilding the heart presented as icons imbued with special protagonism. These large-scale works offer pleas for conservation. Their prominence in the compositions commands respect for the subjects which face the perilous impacts of climate change and deforestation.
Velasco's previous large scale paintings intertwine the lives of humans and landscape expressing her perspective that all things are inseparable. In series of intricate figurative artworks, she blends colors, sinuous lines, and layered textures to enliven luscious landscapes. The juxtapositions of imagery within these idyllic vistas give insight into diverse and contradictive worlds. Capturing the reality that the barriers between agony and ecstasy exist fluidly in the world. The recurring coca plant carries significance as a sacred, medicinal property for Indigenous people while also a basis for cocaine that has fueled humanitarian crises. In Velasco’s paintings the bounds of differences dissolve into one placeーthis land, where armed soldiers are as present as football stars, where opposites intermingle, and where jaguars, roses and people yield rich symbolism.
While Velasco focuses on observation and contemplation, ultimately her paintings spark questions about the complicated perception of reality, truth, impermanence, belonging, conflict and co-existence. Velasco’s artistic practice and life experiences align as she consistently celebrates the unity of the natural and metaphysical worlds, through bearing witness of her inner and outer world.