Alicia Reyes McNamara: From Within

Alicia Reyes McNamara

Artwork’s Title: From within

Materials Used: Pastels and coloured pencils

Studio Based: London

Alicia Reyes McNamara, From within, 2020, pastels and coloured pencil, 21 x 29.7cm

Can you tell us about the process of making your work?

Normally as I wake up ideas come to me while I’m still in bed. I will write them down or draw them out quickly in my sketch book. It is through the drawing process that I decide what medium I would like to realise them through.

How would you define your work in a few words (ideally in 3 words)?

Shapeshift, embodiment, narrative.

Would you use another three different words to describe the ‘From Within‘ painting?

Curious, alive, glimmer.

How did you come up with this painting idea? Is there any story behind this painting?

During quarantine I began a series that started as a place to put my anxieties, but it quickly became an investigation of folklore and rituals around loss, mourning and healing, in which beings and landscapes mutate and shapeshift, creating a personal imaginary of forms of embodiment.

This piece came out of researching mythology of river ghosts and goddesses. In most myths I had encountered in Mexican and Irish Folklore (which connect to my parents’ lineage) which left to women drowned and have their spirits haunt the river. In Mexican folklore for example, there is La Llorona, Malinche both out of sadness from unrequited love take their own lives in a nearby river. I wanted to reimagine a femme body that wasn’t taking their life but giving life in mystical ways to their environment and back into the water.

What colour is used the most in this painting?

This pastel drawing is mostly different shades of purple and violet.

Can you mention any artists you, lately or generally, take inspiration from?

Ovartaci, Aleksandra Waliszewska, Annabeth Rosen, Nicole Eisenman, Tai Shani, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Leonora Carrington, Erika Verzutti, ASMA, and so so many more. 

How do you know when this painting was finished?

I find it difficult when knowing a painting is finished, sometimes it’s just about getting it to be the image I have in my head, but other times it’s about struggling through to find that energy I want it to emit.

What about the place where you work? What’s your studio space look like?

My studio in Brixton has a desk I usually draw at, shelving full of sculpture parts, a wall space to paint on, some floor space I build my sculptures, along with a nice big window and a plant to keep me company when my studiomate Barby Asante isn’t in. 

Is there any particular message that you wish your viewers can take from this painting?

I want my viewer to feel a bit unsettled, surprised, and/or seduced.

What does your mum think about your art?

I am extremely grateful that my Mom is very supportive of my art and always has been, even if she doesn’t quite understand it all the time.

Which exhibition did you visit last?

I saw ‘Junque’ at Massimo De Carlo gallery right before it closed, which was curated by Jamian Juliano-Villani and included some really great work.

Which are your plans for the near future?

I have solo shows at Niru Ratnam Gallery and Lismore Castle Arts in Ireland next year.

Additional Paintings

Alicia Reyes McNamara, She who gives II, 2020, pastels and coloured pencil, 21 x 29.7cm
Alicia Reyes McNamara, The taste of salt, 2020, pastels and coloured pencil, 21 x 29.7cm
Alicia Reyes McNamara, By moonlight, 2020, pastels and coloured pencil, 21 x 29.7cm


All images are courtesy of the artist

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