Day in and day out, the innate creative talent María Ángeles Fernández Cuesta, also known as La Pinturitas, obsessively works on her colourful paintings that decorate the walls of a derelict restaurant in Arguedas, Navarre, northern Spain. These walls will ultimately face either destruction or transformation, her canvas is ephemeral.
Disregarded and mocked by many of her neighbours, the non-conformist La Pinturitas claims that she started to paint on the walls of this building in 2000 to portray those who marginalised and ridiculed her.
Married to Miguel Galarret, they have four children and, while they share a profound connection that has supported them in overcoming a range of hardships, married life has been tough. However, since 2000, painting has brought an equilibrium to La Pinturitas’ life and keeps her happy.
Each year most of the existing graffiti disappears: modified, enriched or erased to make way for new images. The general public can regularly view, in situ, new work, which La Pinturitas meticulously and passionately describes and explains, acting as tour guide to her own museum.
Nothing can stop this creator, who works tirelessly to transform, enrich, embellish and carefully restore her water-based paintings; an act in part necessitated by the fading from the regular rainfall that washes over the building. In this act of removal and rebirth, we are confronted by her fixation on the creative process, dictated by a force that caters to her sole need and preoccupation.
The restaurant on which La Pinturitas paints is near the Pamplona–Zaragoza national road. This offers her an ideal, strategic spot to have regular exchanges with curious drivers who stop, intrigued by the immense, colourful “canvas” of about 50 metres long by two metres tall. This contact with passers-by encourages the dynamic that motivates her to continue to create. Theatrical and talkative, La Pinturitas often sings for her visitors, which has resulted in numerous YouTube videos that capture these extraordinary moments.
At the edge of the work, yet integrated into one of the painted facades, some of the building’s barred windows have inspired other creative objects. These are renewed daily with cardboard signs onto which La Pinturitas writes and paints, often adding personal possessions and recycled materials.
In 2012, a section of the railings that prevented access to the building disappeared. La Pinturitas quickly took advantage of this opportunity to flood the interior with designs, covering the walls with paintings. The pictorial patterns that dominate the walls depict houses with large windows, tangled up with animal bodies and grotesque, interlocking faces. The expressive characters in her paintings have fixed and prominent eyes, encircled by thick eyelashes. Hair is often comprised of animals such as bulls, birds or snakes; lips can be in fish-form, revealing big, straight, white teeth
Caption: a section of painted wall