THE ART OF BETSABÉ ROMERO
“The car is by far the object that attracts the greatest aesthetic attention among people of all ages and social classes.”
The work of visual artist Betsabé Romero presents us with popular images -- skulls and roses, the Virgin of Guadalupe, the familiar patterns of papel picado -- in contexts where we least expect them, often carved, drawn, or sculpted to the body of her muse: the automobile. As part of their ongoing commitment to hosting the best in contemporary Mexican artists, Hotel Matilda commissioned her to create a site-specific installation, entitled Piel de Azucar, for the hotel.
The 12 tires bound together in a geometric sculpture aim to draw immediate attention and provide an homage to the endangered Huichol sacred lands, Wirikuta, while the beaded flowers laid within are a tribute to its indigenous art. Romero has been utilizing cars and car objects consistently since the 90′s at a Biennal in Tijuana’s Colonia Libertad.
Romero's extensive tapestry of art historical references are woven into her work. In the back wall of the restaurant at Hotel Matilda, the mirrored wall piece utilizes safety mirrors arranged in a mandala type pattern. The concave mirrors reference classic still-life symbolism in art history, and these are decorated with Islamic imagery. The modern concerns with safety in our times are addressed and the contradictions of daily existence meld into visual harmony in her aesthetic.
Although deeply rooted in Mexican artistic tradition, there is an undeniable global sensibility to Romero’s work. Educated at the UNAM and the Ecole de Beaux Arts in Paris, she has exhibited in France, Brazil, Spain, Ireland, Mexico, Australia, the United States. She has also worked in India, where she embraced the local version of her favorite medium: the rickshaw.
“A lot of people think because I’m working with cars that I’m fascinated, or very seduced by cars,” says the artist. In fact, it is the vehicle’s broad relatability that more appeals to Romero: “Everybody has an experience as a conductor or as a passenger in a car.” Her desire to reach a wide public has encouraged her to exhibit beyond traditional spaces, recently in the Netherlands’ anthropological Tropenmusem, and now, at Hotel Matilda.