Inés Maestre’s hyperrealistic paintings comment on desire, relationships and human nature

The painter and illustrator draws inspiration from daily life, weaving together notions of love, isolation and connection.

Date
24 January 2022

It’s not uncommon for a creative to dabble in something else before landing on their chosen medium. When Inés Maestre was growing up in Madrid, she – like many blossoming artists – was reluctantly resigned to the idea that art could only be a hobby, rather than a viable career choice. As a result, she decided to study fashion design. “The truth is,” she says, “I don’t get it right. But studying fashion taught me a lot and it was the first step towards what I wanted to do.”

A few years later, Inés realised that fashion design wasn’t making her happy, which pushed her to move to London and “make a living from scratch”. Living a “bit badly” for a while, Inés still had a great time starting fresh and saw how it was possible to survive as an artist – “something I had been taught could only be a hobby, so my perspective of life changed a lot,” she says. After this, Inés began taking on commissions as an illustrator, working with brands and magazines while pursuing personal projects and exhibitions on the side. Meanwhile, she moved back to Madrid and lived in the city for two years until moving to Switzerland to finish up an MA in Fine Arts, from which she graduated last June.

These days, you’ll find her based between Lausanne and Madrid. When she’s not taking on a commission for the likes of Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar, Heineken, i-D, Vanity Fair, Vogue or many others, you’ll find her producing her hyperrealistic depictions of women, daily life and human eccentricities. All the while commenting on topics such as human nature or the adult industry, as seen in her recent series Pornofobia. Speaking about how she finds the topics she wishes to explore, Inés calls herself “lucky” to be able to draw inspiration from daily life and in “what surrounds us as human beings”. This includes concepts related to sociology and psychology, such as love, desire and human relationships. “I am interested in how we relate to what we feel and the whole journey though which we transform or express what ‘we have inside’,” she notes. “I find it very interesting to work on the representation of what is not tangible or visible to the naked eye.”

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Inés Maestre: Unchained Melody. Collaboration with Sara Bastai and Zelda Passini pieces (Copyright © Inés Maestre, 2021)

“I believe that desire is the engine that drives human life”

Inés Maestre

In a new project, Inés has collaborated with one of her best friends and photographer Sara Bastai, conceived with pieces designed by jewellery designer Zelda Passini. In one image, we see a cropped visual of a woman’s face, tears steaming down her translucent skin and eyes as blue as a clear summer’s sky. Another image is also cropped, but this time our gaze is on a woman’s hands as she touches the back of her neck. Created at the beginning of the pandemic, Inés calls this a “special” project, as they decided to work together while in isolation.

“We were locked up at home and we had this collaboration in mind – we decided to do it during those two weeks of isolation together with my other flatmate, Joanna (who is captured in the pictures). We used the cheesy story of the movie Ghost as inspiration but transferred to a relationship between two women. We attempted to represent the feeling of frustration when the ghost tries to touch his beloved but, of course, he can’t because he is no longer a body.” This conjures up imagery of disconnection and the yearning for human touch, which of course were experienced by many during the pandemic. “It’s a metaphor for the lack of physical contact that we were all experiencing at that time.”

In another piece, Inés steers away from the format of paint and instead turns her focus on installation. Draped fabric hangs off a twisted wire hanger, while the material is adorned in painterly visuals – much like the work we’re seeing throughout the rest of her portfolio. Somewhat reminiscent of Renaissance painting, we catch glimpses of cherubs and grapes as they peak through the folds of the fabric. “It aims to explore desire and love, and how sometimes in our experiences we get them mixed up,” she says. “I believe that desire is the engine that drives human life, it makes us dream, it vindicates life, pleasure, self-realisation and freedom.”

All of Inés’ artworks have a deep-rooted concept beneath the surface. She strives for duality, whether that’s through the idea, the narrative or the material choices. “I want the pieces to emphasise the feeling and the price we have to pay when the object we desire may not be the best for us, even if it satisfies our appetite,” she says. Yet despite these underlying messages, Ines hopes you’ll interpret your own stories form her works – they’re free for all to enjoy and experience. “On the other hand, speaking in very general terms, I would like the kind of messages that my pieces transmit to be of sorority; messages that communicate that you are not alone in living what you are living, or feeling what you are feeling, and challenging the way of representation that is established by social standards.”

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Inés Maestre: Inés Maestre, 13 Alfileres de San Antonio (Copyright © Inés Maestre, 2021)

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Inés Maestre: I Know how soft your body is, I scratched my hands with it (Copyright © Inés Maestre, 2021)

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Inés Maestre: Quiero un machote (Copyright © Inés Maestre, 2021)

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Inés Maestre: Threesome bday (Copyright © Inés Maestre, 2021)

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Inés Maestre: Collaboration with Buenavista Lanzar (Copyright © Inés Maestre, 2021)

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Inés Maestre: La fuente de los deseos (Copyright © Inés Maestre, 2021)

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Inés Maestre: Painting for Time Will Tell 2022 calendar (Copyright © Inés Maestre, 2022)

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Inés Maestre: Painting for Time Will Tell 2022 calendar (Copyright © Inés Maestre, 2022)

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Inés Maestre: Pornophobia (Copyright © Inés Maestre, 2021)

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Inés Maestre: Pornophobia (Copyright © Inés Maestre, 2021)

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Inés Maestre: Doing the best with what we have (Copyright © Inés Maestre, 2021)

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Inés Maestre: Unchained Melody. Collaboration with Sara Bastai and Zelda Passini pieces (Copyright © Inés Maestre, 2021)

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About the Author

Ayla Angelos

Ayla was an editorial assistant back in June 2017 and has continued to work with us on a freelance basis. She has spent the last seven years as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.

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