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Interview with Mexican Painter: Rocio Navarro

Rocio Navarro in her studio in France. Courtesy of the artist.

Rocio Navarro (b. Chihuahua, México, 1991) is a visual artist based in France who specializes in portraiture painting. Her brightly colored canvases depicting dark-skinned women explore the notions of perceived inherent values embedded in the Latin American identity. Her paintings also explore the mundane of everyday life, which allows viewers to relate to her work.

Navarro has a Bachelor's in Fine Art in Graphic Design and Animation from TecMilenio Chihuahua. Her paintings and drawings have been exhibited both in Mexico and France. She currently lives and works in Toulouse, France. Please read my interview with her below to learn more about the artist.


Please tell us about your background and what inspired you to become an artist.

I have always been drawn, almost obsessively, to art. Since I was a child, I remember filling pages with miniature portraits. I was lucky to have supportive parents. They enrolled me from a very young age in painting and drawing lessons that I continued into adulthood.

I grew up in Chihuahua, Mexico, where I studied graphic design. I worked for a while doing 3D modeling, and then in 2014, I moved to France, where I lived in the countryside. Only after a few years of living here in France did I start creating my own paintings. I had to live through some significant life experiences to have the urge to express them. I could do it in a very secluded environment, with few distractions and a lot of peace.

Rocio Navarro, Mexican artist.
Rocio Navarro, image courtesy of the artist.

What does a day in your life as an artist look like?

I try to get regular hours and be consistent with my working schedule. I have my studio in my home and have always worked this way. It allows me to take better care of my dogs, lovely Tulio and Joy.

Rocio Navarro, Mexican artist.
Rocio Navarro, image courtesy of the artist.

Your paintings are colorful, vibrant portrayals of women. I read somewhere that the women you depict are the Rarámuri people, also known as Tarahumaras, an indigenous group that lives in northern Mexico. Is this a way to keep a strong memory or hold a daily connection to your homeland of Chihuahua while living in a foreign country in Europe?

When I first started painting here in France, I had two lines of work, portraits that developed into what I do now and landscapes that featured the Rarámuri people. My first years in France were hard. I had plans that didn’t materialize, which made me want to return to Mexico because I missed my life there. I think the work that I did then reflects that.

I create intuitively. Only in retrospect can I make sense of certain things within my work. The portraits I do now are characters that reflect me and my environment. I relate to them, some are specific moments in time, and therefore I relate to them more, and others are more on the fantasy level, memories, or future projections.

Rocio Navarro, Mexican artist.
Rocio Navarro, image courtesy of the artist.

How have the major themes you pursue in your artwork changed over time?

I have focused on portraits. My art practice has been essential to what constitutes a good life for me. It has been instrumental in my personal development, and for that, it had to become more personal, less thematic or topical, and more mundane and honest.

Rocio Navarro, image courtesy of the artist.

What is something you wish people who come across your art take away from it?

I have no say in that. My work arises from personal experiences; some people may relate to it, see some humor, or something interesting.

Rocio Navarro, image courtesy of the artist.

How do you navigate the professional art industry?

I keep my working habits consistent and my work relationships honest, open, and respectful.

Rocio Navarro, image courtesy of the artist.

Final question, if you could acquire any piece of art (from a dead or living artist, could be off the market in a museum, etc.), what would it be and why?

Self-portrait with a camellia by Paula Modersohn-Becker, or any other of her portraits. I admire the sensibility and candidness of her work.

To stay up-to-date with the artist's career, make sure to follow her on Instagram @vanarrocio


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