From Madrid, Carmen Mansilla is a realistic figurative painter. Although she studied Communication, Mansilla chose to pursue her passion, which is art and painting. Her artistic training is extensive thanks to her constant interest in learning. She graduated in Design and Illustration (graduated from the Escuela Superior de Diseño ESSED), graduated in Fine Arts and attended a lot of workshops and courses; Golucho, José Sánchez Carralero, Vicente Desiderio, Antonio López or Alex Kanevsky have been some of her teachers. She also studied in Florence and The Angel Academy of Art. 

All this work and effort to improve and learn has been rewarded with events such as being one of the many artists that make up the Women Painting Women project or having exhibited both nationally (her work is in the MEAM in Barcelona, among others) and internationally (Germany, United States, Scotland, France and Italy). 

Carmen Mansilla painting

CARMEN MANSILLA: PICTORIAL THEMES

Like all artists, Carmen Mansilla’s work has evolved as she has acquired knowledge. Thus, in the same way that during a stage of her professional career she was more attracted to a work with more movement, expression and gesticulation, Carmen Mansilla chose to give it a more emotional and intimate perspective, even. A much looser brushstroke, recurrence to mythological symbolism and the woman as almost absolute protagonist of her work. She explained it herself for Ophelia Magazine:

“One must start academically to learn the craft and know the history of art, but then a change is necessary that leads to individuality. In my beginnings I loved to work in a “classical” and natural way, but with time one evolves. Thanks to the academies you see wonderful works, but they all seem to be painted by the same hand, they are cold, soulless. Painting evolves with your personality and the difficult thing is to materialize it. That’s why one begins to look for oneself and to investigate the language to use. Each story needs a language.

Now I prefer another type of painting, it is still figurative, but it is evolving towards abstract figuration or expressionism and geometry. You never stop learning and investigating”.

In the end, as Carmen sees it, “the challenge for the painter must be to find oneself”. This thought is very much in tune with her evolution and change of register in her pictorial work, since, according to the artist, “One should not reproduce exactly what the eye sees, that is only craftsmanship. The realistic painter must paint with the soul, almost with his eyes closed. He must give his interpretation of what he is painting. In the work what matters is “how things are told”, you can’t make poetry with mathematical language”.

Painting Carmen Mansilla

Drawing (charcoal and graphite) is also an important part of her artistic production; proof of this is the fact that she won the first international drawing prize of the Reial Acadèmia de Belles Arts de Sant Jordi.

Graphite drawing
drawing Carmen Mansilla

It is true that, although throughout her career she has given importance to different themes, one of the most recurrent and current is the female figure.

Nowadays, what could be called a “resurgence of figurative painting” is taking place. In line with her work and that of many of her colleagues, Carmen Mansilla maintains the idea of using the technique of the great classics as a base, but giving it a modern and updated touch.

“If you go to a museum you won’t find anything as fascinating as the works of the 19th century and the majestic paintings made for the academy in Rome, but you have to try to move forward. Go on, go on… Today there is an obsession with what we understand as “beautiful”, with what does not disturb. This is also the case with expression in art. Hyperrealism is better understood than other types of language, technical virtuosity is sacralized in the face of a questioning of what should be the “essence” of artistic creation. We paint to be judged by teachers, not to make art. You have to be very brave to disobey the binomial “pretty – ugly”. You have to be brave”.

CARMEN MANSILLA’S WORKSHOP AT MAA

Now that you know Carmen Mansilla’s work, we would like to remind you that the artist will visit our academy, she will work live for the attendees and you will be able to make your own painting too. Are you coming to visit us from March 11th to 13th and attend Carmen Mansilla’s workshop?

CARMEN MANSILLA’S REFERENCES

Beyond the great artists who, like other painters, have influenced the way she sees art, Carmen Mansilla mentions some women who have shaped, in one way or another, her professional career. “The artists who influenced me are Helene Schjerfbeck, Camile Claudel, Louise Bourgeois, Tamara Lempicka, Leonora Carrington, Helaine de Kooning, Alice Neel, among others. But today thanks to the internet I find fascinating and very young artists, most of them women. Let’s fight to make art no matter who the author is”.

And that is a topic that Carmen defends; in fact, she herself prefers to sign her works only with her last name. And it is true that although “social and mental change has also contributed to leave the role of “mother” and “housewife”, it is also true that “today we should not expose, or have a special day just for being women, but for being good artists. This way the only thing they achieve is to unite any type of artist just for being a woman, regardless of her type or her way of making art”.