© María Gato 2012

Javier Rioyo and María Gato



I don’t know when María Gato began interpreting her world by painting it.


Probably in her Brazilian childhood of a Galician emigrant.  A girl from nowhere who dreamed of the placid lands that she would take time to recognize as her own.  And she recognized them sensing that the saudade would always accompany her.  You never stop being Galician, even when living in other places, even when accompanied by other surroundings.  As a universal country girl she inhabited other worlds, other peoples, Barcelona, Miami, New York, Madrid, or somewhere in Austria that she barely knows and in a time she will never know. María’s paintings seem to come from those dispersions, from those differences.  And, in its heart, Galicia is always revisited.


That itinerant view, that mixing of dusks in Madrid, the Atlantic waters, the mixed races of Florida, New York’s jazz nights, and some Brazilian melancholies and some European paintings from between the two world wars, make up the sentimental landscapes of her paintings.  There are also the bodies, the naked figures seen as a beautiful everyday object.  And the objects seen with the interest of someone who stops in front of a nude, like someone who unhurriedly touches a body.  And that is how they emerge, her peaceful blues, her yellows from Castilian lands, her rebellious reds, her grays over the city that is watching the end of the day.


María Gato’s paintings, more concerned with the pleasure of enjoying unhurriedly than in the nervousness of instant gratification, are full of different paths, of travels on bifurcating paths that end up meeting, recognizing each other. The orchestra conductor who is pleased to meet with the jazz musician, the surgeons who open – possibly – the disquieting body of a woman with a longing gaze, the figure of ambiguous beauty, the city’s skyline and some bottles of liquor waiting to be drunk slowly, all these worlds are reinterpreted by María.  They are viewed with freedom, without hurry, and without the intent of portraying reality.  The painter María Gato is not interested in reality.  As the best painters do, she reinvents the world, and stops it with more pleasure than passion.


And later she allows doubt to keep her company.  The not knowing when or why the painting is finished, that having to come back, repaint, cut and doubt again.  Paintings, like the best literature and the best libertarian thoughts, have to be made with a necessary dosage of skepticism.  And skepticism is there in a beautiful, necessary way in María’s paintings.  There is a happy skeptic behind María’s every painting.  It should be enjoyed letting go of skepticism.


 Javier Rioyo


Exhibit at Galicia's Xunta in Madrid – 1995

Translation from original text in Spanish