Photo by Karina Marie Diaz
Patricia Araujo was born in Miami, Florida, the daughter of Colombian parents. She grew up in Bogota, Colombia and lived there until the age of 19. She began drawing at a very early age, always intrigued by architecture and form. After completing high school in Bogota, Araujo moved to Northern California and studied architecture, painting, and photography. In 2005 she obtained her second B.F.A in Painting, from the San Francisco Art Institute.
For over a decade, Patricia Araujo has painted the facades of both iconic city landmarks and downtown buildings. Her paintings depict praiseworthy examples of San Francisco architecture, some utilitarian and others grandly ornamental; addressing the themes of urban growth and decay. Araujo continues to deepen her conceptual themes on architecture, place and change in the urban landscape. She has been exhibiting in San Francisco since 1998. In 2008, she published her first book, entitled ”SOMA SEEN”. Her work has been written about in the San Francisco Chronicle, Huffington Post, ARTslant, 7x7 SF, Beyondchron, Examiner and the San Francisco Bay Guardian. She lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area.
It is through two main routes that I explore notions which fascinate me, the singular iconic structure coupled with multiple environmental abstractions. My work explores a main theme: urbanscapes, which are both factual accounts and at the same time fictionalized fantasies, and symbolic. I am primarily involved with the study of forms and the study of facades. In addition, I move beyond the surface into the supporting structure, in which are found Western notions of harmonies, proportion, and the mathematical aesthetics that are the foundations of this expression. Amongst those aspects of the language of architecture that appeal to me is the arch and the dome. Within architecture is both the mystery and utility of geometry. Architecture symbolizes beyond the structure alone. The aesthetics and socio-political possibilities of temples, cathedrals, theatres, municipal buildings, are celebrated structures which recognize the role of social and ritual. In the secular world too, there are also examples of architectural structures which amplify, magnify and otherwise celebrate both power and strength - an arena where visions and beliefs and ideologies are metamorphosed into the concrete. As an artist, my foundation is with both the real and the abstract, and the connotations of the structures that are our cities.
In my cityscapes, I sense the presence of the silent stage uninterrupted by inhabitants. There is both silence and suspension. Even in the light there is a sense of being suspended between the certainty of day and the doubt at night. My inspiration is mirrored by the presence of sublime spaces. The profound or spectacular can reside within the humble, not only the glamorous or veneered. It is both. Notions of timelessness, ideas and ideals, the ordinary and the fantastic are encountered in the imaginative moments. The everyday gets transformed by attention, by paying attention and through the practice of painting. I endeavor to poetize the ordinary and to turn acts of the imagination into facts of the imagination in the hope that I give account of the innate potential for mystery and the otherwise invisibility born of familiarity.
For over a decade, I've painted the architecture of San Francisco's South of Market and Mid-Market neighborhoods. While living in downtown San Francisco I found myself enchanted by the rich architectural history of that area and the decayed beauty that remains. I've continued to paint facades of iconic city landmarks, some of them refurbished and put back into active use, some of them still-handsome abandoned buildings.
Those paintings are my celebration of a suddenly rich city that looked to an ever-expanding future. Since 2008 I've developed a new series of paintings, Tomorrowland Today. The newer series was inspired by futuristic, classical, and industrial architecture; the specific point of departure was finding photographs of circus arenas in Romania and Ukraine. The structures I've brought together in these paintings also include coliseums, citadels, and roller coasters.
My father was an architect and worked for Walt Disney Imagineering during the 1970s and 1980s, and while I was a child I visited Disney World every summer. It was there that I was first fascinated by amusement parks. I am still captivated by Disney’s Epcot Center and the Florida version of Tomorrowland, and in particular by the Space Mountain ride, which has become an American icon for kids and adults.
I see resemblances between Space Mountain and another structure, a circus building in the city of Dnepr, Ukraine, a city that became Russia's major center of steel production early in the 20th century. Dnepr has also been an important center of aerospace and nuclear-weapons development; in that sense it is a city of the technological future. Not an amusement-park Tomorrowland, but a real one. There are similarities between the two buildings' design and also in their function as places of entertainment. For this series I have created my own version of the Dnepr circus building, which appears as a spaceship and recurs in many of these paintings, acting as a unifying element.
My Tomorrowland paintings highlight the exteriors of complete structures, but also depict architectural fragments and decorative elements. Their style, another unifying element in this series, is largely abstract. Individual elements have sharp, precise edges, highlighted by bright, flat colors. The style has more in common with the abstraction of architectural drawing than with realistic painting.
These imaginary cityscapes are a mixture of old and new constructions from various places, East and West. I have sought to bring centuries of utopianism and hope for the future together in a fantasized present, as that present might be created in an architect's or a painter's vision. Designing an amusement park for Disney Imagineering has something in common with designing the new landscape of the aerospace industry, and by now the futuristic designs of both Disney and aerospace have become part of the human imagination.
SELECTED ART REVIEWS & PRESS
The City from SOMA Grand, ARTslant, by Wilma Parker, dated December 12th, 2012.
SoMa Like You've Never Seen, Huffington Post, by Aaron Sankin, dated November 19th, 2012.
The Great White Way, Art & Architecture - San Francisco, dated November 9th, 2012.
The unveiling of SOMA Rising by Arttitud, Examiner, by Sophie Azouaou, dated November 7th, 2012.
SoMa towers paint new picture for SF, San Francisco Chronicle, by John King, dated October 30th, 2012.
Spotlight Emerging Artist: Patricia Araujo,, by Lauren Smith @ 2Op Collective, San Francisco, dated April 14th, 2012.
"Geometric Goddesses" @ Roll Up Gallery, writing by Alan Bamberger @ Artbusiness.com, dated March 9th, 2012.
7x7SF - Four Don't-Miss Art Shows This Week SF: "Geometric Goddesses", 7x7 SF, by Alex Bigman, dated March 7th, 2012
"Idealization of Shapes" @ Roll Up Gallery, writing by Alan Bamberger @ Artbusiness.com, dated July 29th, 2011.
Heart of the City/SOMA SEEN, ARTslant, dated January 28th, 2009, Review by Wilma Parker
Resuscitating the Heart of San Francisco, by Heather Knight, San Francisco Chronicle, dated December 24, 2008.
"Heart of the City": Structures Built to Last, by Reyhan Harmanci, San Francisco Chronicle, dated November 27th, 2008.
"Heart of the City", writing by Alan Bamberger @ Artbusiness.com, dated November 21st, 2008.
Tenderloin CBD Gets New Office; Art Exhibit Tonight!, by Paul Hogarth, November 21st, 2008 @ Beyondchron.org
SF BAY Guardian Best Weekly, November 21st, 2008, San Francisco Bay Guardian, by Michelle Broder Van Dyke
DA Arts Paintings Selected for Bloomingdale's Opening, Beyondchron.org, by Randy Shaw, dated September 27th, 2006.
Architecture for Bloomingdales - Patricia Araujo @ DA Arts, Beyondchron.org, Review by Wilma Parker
Patricia Araujo welcomes invitations for exhibition opportunities and painting commissions.
She is presently developing new works for upcoming shows.
To view her upcoming exhibitions please visit NEWS page
If you wish to visit Araujo's Studio and/or to view an original piece in person, please feel free to contact her for further information and/or to make an appointment.
Araujo has paintings on view at Arttitud, a modern furniture design showroom & gallery located at 111 Potrero Avenue in San Francisco. One can visit during public store hours, Tues-Friday: 11:00am - 6:00pm and on Saturdays, 11:00am - 5:00pm.
If interested in acquiring any of the pieces shown there, all sales are exclusively handled by Arttitud.
To view more of Araujo's paintings, there's a nice selection of her SoMa works at the San Francisco Flower Mart, at Sunshine International, located inside warehouse, 644 Brannan Street. Store hours: Mon, Wed & Fridays: 7:00am - 11:00am and by appt.
To make an appt please contact please Patricia Araujo.