“To me art is universal magic. It’s like love, it’s for everybody. It connects people immediately; it doesn’t matter where you come from.” Truly, looking at Nieto’s art one feels a connection with one’s self and the world around. The bright colours of her abstract paintings make us see everything as though for the first time. In her unique series ‘Origin and Light’, Nieto employs a radically new technique: she creates abstract images with special invisible paint, which can only be illuminated with UV lights. Magically, a completely white canvas is transformed abruptly into a bright, cosmological landscape right before the spectator’s eyes.
The Hague-based artist, of Venezuelan origin, Maryolga Nieto started her journey in the arts at the age of 7. A precocious talent, her work achieved early recognition and won awards. As a young woman, Nieto studied at the Cheshire Academy in Connecticut and subsequently in New York and Miami. Now, a well-established artist, Nieto has been featured in more than 46 exhibitions in Europe, USA and South America. Her recent work was presented at the Museum of Modern Art in Caracas, Venezuela and the Latin Museum of Amersfoort, Netherlands. Nieto is also a published author of 7 books on folklore, culture and poetry. Her latest book of poetry ‘The Overflown Side’, featuring illustrations by Christopher Courtlandt, was published at the American Book Centre in The Hague last year.
Immense in its scope, Nieto’s portfolio of work includes ceramics, paintings, large scale murals, pottery, tapestry and glass work. However painting has always been her main medium, as she calls it “my main vein”: “If you are an artist and you start doing everything, you get dispersed a little bit, but it’s good to experiment, because it’s part of the intrinsic being of an artist.” While observing the textures, shapes and colours of Nieto’s work, the audience is given a chance to surrender to the realm of the senses. Nieto gives the viewer a space to experience, engage, enjoy and interpret. The observer gains a glimpse into her infinite celebration of life, dissolving in the ocean of light. “I paint to reflect existence, strength, spirituality, flow, interaction. Art and politics are separate for me because once I take a side, I close myself and I’m no longer open to contemplate other interpretations.”
Her paintings are inspired by folkloric art, particularly masks worn during the religious Venezuelan festival called the ‘Dancing Devils of Yare’. The tradition symbolizes the triumph of good over evil. Such is Nieto’s work; it’s a triumph of life over the inertia of the mundane. In one of her books “The Little Devil of Yare”, Nieto features the Devil of Yare as the main character. For Nieto, it is the story of the importance of roots.
Nieto came to the Netherlands in 1997 and decided to stay: “When I first came here, I had my doubts. Will my work be accepted and appreciated here? Will they enjoy such intense colours? But then people enjoyed my work, I was very surprised. I felt very welcome here.” She loves living in The Hague and considers it to be her second home. “We have everything here in the Hague: elegant architecture, beautiful nature and a big international community. The ultimate experience of visiting the Netherlands must be here.”
By Malika Suleymanova