The art of drawing with ink has existed since before the Tang Dynasty in China. It is painstaking work, due mostly to the fact that true inks are permanent, allowing zero margin for error. Furthermore, depending on the paper, the porosity and texture can require great calm in order to execute a clean line without sudden blots of ink.
None of these factors were on Romy Vargas’ mind when she began pursuing a degree in Architecture. But the pressure to follow an instructor’s highly prescriptive rules for how to execute a design did cause her to take a sudden left turn — away from architecture altogether.
“I became fascinated with textile design and certain elements of sacred and primitive geometry.”
“I don’t have a fine art background, in fact I didn’t really start sketching until I was required to take a freehand drawing class. I was also taking an art history class where I ended up writing a paper on the Malian tradition of bògòlanfini (mudcloth).”
Bògòlanfini patterns are a language in and of themselves; as much art as communication. More than mere decoration, Malians believe their designs can thwart evil influence and provide safety from trauma. Romy became absorbed by the designs she discovered and began developing her own “language” of lines and shapes.
Romy uses the darkest of oxide inks to ensure the richest of colour against the stark whiteness of the Arches paper she insists on using.
With Romy’s paintings, some may see a kind of stark modernism, but underneath lies much of the same mysticism that the artist found while researching tribal textiles.
“I already had a deep love for textiles but this research led me to experiment with block printing on paper and fabrics. I became fascinated with textile design and certain elements of sacred and primitive geometry.”
Romy paints each work by hand, first with a pencil and then with gouache to fill in the lines of her design with ever-deepening shades of black. It is a painstaking process, made even more so by the deeply porous Arches rag paper which she insists on using. A finished piece can take anywhere from 1-3 weeks.
At top, the screen printing machine renders a work in black and white; below, the end result, “Angeleno.”
“I think people are drawn to my artwork because the combination of precision and scale provides an impact that is orderly and balanced. The compositions are original due to the arrangement of shapes and the intensity of the line weight.”
After a series of small gallery showings, Romy discovered that her work speaks to people who are mesmerized by the slightly dizzying intersection of line and shape. For the first time she is offering limited edition screen prints, each numbered and signed by the artist.
>> Fonfrège is proud to offer a choice of three prints, for a limited time only. Purchase them here.