First published: Fall 2023

Brought up on the poetry of nature and the freedom of travel, Izabella Ortiz has found roots in the trance-like creation of her swirling paintings


Izabella Ortiz creates artwork of fluctuating and luminescent inner landscapes. Automatic paintings steeped in reveries, they are inhabited by flora and fauna in continual metamorphosis; aquatic worlds that bathe in a hypnotic atmosphere. Self-taught, Ortiz has devoted herself fully to her painting practice – which has become a form of self-healing for her – since 2009. Her “shamanic” work has been presented in several exhibitions, including at the Polysémie Gallery in Marseille and the Henry Boxer Gallery in London. Cavin-Morris Gallery in New York has represented her artwork since 2017 and has dedicated three solo shows to her.


Water Memories, 2019, inks and felt pen on paper, 11.5 x 12.5 in. / 29 x 32 cm, courtesy Cavin-Morris Gallery


Born in 1964 to an Australian mother and a French-Colombian father, Ortiz grew up in Villejuif, a suburb on the eastern outskirts of Paris characterised by large, uniform social housing projects: “This grey environment bored me and I often raised my head towards the sky... The clouds distracted me,” she says.


Dew on Immortal Souls, 2015, mixed media on paper, 12 x 16 in. / 30 x 40 cm, courtesy Cavin-Morris Gallery


When, in 1969, the family moved to Australia, Ortiz was shocked by the luxuriant and varied flora and fauna of her mother’s exotic homeland: “When my mother took me to the beach of her childhood, the sand was so white, so fine that it crunched under my feet, and the blue-green plow of the waves with the white of the foam gave me the impression that I was a kind of blind woman discovering the existence of colours... “ she says.


Water Memories, 2020, mixed media on paper, 43 x 70.5 / in. / 109 x 178.5 cm, courtesy Cavin-Morris Gallery


As she grew up, Ortiz’s gaze was dazzled by other landscapes that fuelled her imagination with their explosive range of sensations, colours and shapes. Her father was a pilot, and was also one of the discoverers of a comet that would partly bear his name: White-Ortiz-Bolelli. He played a key role in the formation of Ortiz’s inner world. Convinced that travel provided a better education than any lesson, he did not hesitate to take his daughter out of school to experience adventures: “They are tattooed in me forever, the exotic images of the fabulous journeys of my childhood and my adolescence that my father gave us: Japan, Tahiti, Peru, Brazil. [...] My travels are, in fact, part of my richest learning,“ she says.



This is an article extract; read the full article in Raw Vision #116.

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