“I am not very comfortable with labels or definitions, but I am particularly interested in observing the human spirit and the spirit behind all things folk, psychedelia and nature,” says Buenos Aires-based artist Paula Duró. Such an introduction is fitting for someone as magical as Paula. Her art vibrates with all things arcane and esoteric, drawing on a unique mysticism that pays tribute to her country and the spiritual world at large. Such dedication to this field has landed her a sizable following across social media, and has led to various collaborations with the publishing house Taschen, where she first caught our attention. But, Paula remains astutely humble, drawing her practice back to a holistic self. “In deeper terms, [painting] has been and continues to be the most genuine key to self-knowledge and transformation of many aspects of my life,” she says. By viewing painting as a cathartic and therapeutic release, Paula often finds herself drawn to musical projects. “They give a lot of freedom,” she says. “They enrich the creative process, and the melodies accompany the entire journey involved in materialising a piece.”
Paula’s work features a versatile aesthetic, appearing on murals, record covers, books, and the like. It’s an impressively diverse portfolio that proves the extent of Paula’s talent, and the draw towards her signature style. On her said signature style, Paula says it’s “difficult to describe, but people can recognise it immediately.” It’s a fusion of folk, mysticism, and indigenous Latin American histories – all the while staying fresh and innovative. “I suppose that there is something that is captured on the canvas that exceeds a conscious decision, like a particular vibration,” Paula says. “It’s like the voice of a singer that one knows and identifies immediately, even if you have never heard that song.”
What is it about mysticism that has inspired Paula so much over the years? It seems, for Paula, that the placement of magic in her art goes beyond the aesthetic realm and starts from a more personal space. In fact, a connection that implicates Paula in the very magic she depicts on the canvas. “When I was younger, things began to happen sporadically,” she explains. “Some clairvoyance, prophetic dreams, visions of the future that led me to connect more and more with those invisible worlds.” As magic unfolded in her life, Paula found it a natural and ever-giving source of inspiration. “Over the years I realised that I am not so interested in an art that is simply a comment on reality,” she explains. “Instead, art itself is a key to create reality, to create beauty and knowledge.”
The dedication to creating “beauty and knowledge” is perhaps what led Paula to work with Taschen not once, but twice. First appearing in Tarot. The Library of Esoterica with her tarot card work, Paula popped up again in the more recent release on astrology from the publishing house. “It is a truly beautiful book and the selection of images is very beautiful too,” Paula says. Working with the Aquarius sign, Paula tells us that for Astrology. The Library of Esoterica, she “contributed two drawings and a painting, the Tarot Star card, which is closely related to the Aquarius archetype.” Most interestingly, Paula tells us the Tarot Star card painting came in part from a specific set of social and political conditions in South America, which has seen various people-led protests and political ruptures come to fruition over the last few years. “It is a painting that was made in a very convulsed political and social moment in Latin America where there was a great need to purify a lot of stagnant and toxic things,” she explains. “For me, it was a dream come true to participate in another edition of Taschen,” Paula adds. “I was very kindly invited by the curators Jessica Hundley and Lisa Doran, and for that, I am very grateful.”
Going forward, Paula continues to wish for a more holistic approach to art, life, and mysticism. “I would love for myself and for all artists, in general, to start getting off the screens a bit and exhibiting our work in halls, museums or botanical gardens,” she tells us. As someone who regularly works with a litany of material mediums, we have no doubt Paula’s colourful and esoteric paintings and illustrations will continue to illuminate the minds of many across Argentina and the world.
Paula Duró: Turin (Copyright © Paula Duró, 2020)