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Emilia Castañeda

Emilia Castañeda is a legendary Spanish painter who has shown at galleries and museums in her home city of Barcelona and throughout Europe since the mid 1960’s. Her work resides in scores of private collections around the world including that of the famous American actor,  Jack Nicholson.  Her fantastically unique style connects modernism, surrealism, and spirituality through an omnipresent yet delicately etheric sensuality.  The figures in her work, especially women, are bathed in supernatural light that elevates them to a status beyond mere humanity: They are Goddesses, symbols of the Divine Feminine.  She has imbued her canvases with a textured and painterly virtuosity for over 50 years and is featured as one of the 84 greatest female artists of all time in, “Great Women Masters of Art” by Jordi Vigué. (Watson Guptill Publications)

Innumerable writers began praising her shows and paintings right after her first exhibition in the early 1960'. Here are some excerpts:

From Dietario Artistico section of “El Noticiero Universal”  November 8th, 1977 written by Santos Torroella:

“The subject, the subjects that Emilia Castañeda cultivates, are erotic. Everything enters them: from motherhood to death, even solitary pleasures, idealism to irony, from intersex reciprocity to cross-dressing. She conceives, feels eroticism with breadth and depth, not filming between these themes that can be considered scandals that could subsequently lead to calculated exploitation. No, here, there is no exploitation in this sense. Emilia Castañeda’s first exposition began in 1973 at Galeria Leonart in Barcelona. She recalls the time with fondness, saying how collectors bought each piece and commissions were constant.  Emilia says, “ My pictures were out of the norm, and I was the first woman who managed to paint a woman’s sensuality in a sophisticated brave kind of way.  She enthusiastically shows me a collection of photos from her first shows.  Some photos are remarkable.  She hugs Italian singer Pavarotti in front of his portrait.  Jack Nicholson collects her work in his L.A. home. 

Emilia Castañeda says she was born to be a painter.  She recalls fondly arriving in a unique academy of arts at just thirteen years old.  In 1956, she met her spiritual teacher, Don Victor Esteban Ripaux.  He was the father she never had.  She says, “When my dear Mr. Esteban died, he could not satisfy his hope for me as an artist. Many times he repeated, "When you decide to ... you will become a good painter."  She says, “I spent three years as a decorator of biblical images, painter of doll faces, painted silk for cassocks, comics, postcards, etc., without stopping going to my teacher's classes. At 19, I got married and learned the failures of love. The best thing was having my son David; they were beautiful and brutal times! She combined the study of painting with work, was a mother and wife. Emilia is known for having difficulties with the galleries that would not show her work. “I have never had problems with censorship, but the repression is still latent as if they were afraid of hanging a drawing of a woman putting on garters in their living room.”

Miguel Sen writes an article called, “Emilia Castañeda: Transgression, sensuality, and lust.”"In her paintings is the perversion of the world through the flesh, the raging enjoyment of all pleasures, brutal, obscene, and secret. 

In femininity, this artist finds the world of suggestion, the secret of the Egyptian pyramid, of the woman with the head of a wise cat. In her works the faces manifest all the beauty of the woman with head of Bast, and within each face manifest all the beauty of the woman. ( Where a cat usually denotes a symbol that accompanies the man, always in the background.) The symbol subject to the wisdom, so often perverse, of those women, together, naked, or gently veiled, in whose eyes you can see the curious naivety, the cold perversion, the desire, the conviction of being on a plane that makes man her captive."

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