For its 2015 edition, contemporary art fair ARCOmadrid invited Colombia as its guest "focus" nation. Included among the 20 young artists selected by curator Juan Andrés Gaitán for the "Arco Colombia" special exhibition sector is the talented Bogotá-based Angélica María Zorrilla. Represented by Galería Sextante, Bogotá, Zorrilla presents two series of drawings for one of the Focus Colombia exhibitions titled Frente al Otro: Dibujos en Posconflicto (“In Front of the Other: Drawings in Post-conflict”). Zorilla’s works are introspective, delicate, and melancholic. Her drawings are marked by an intense focus on interior emotional states exploring the borders and bounds between the human and natural life.
Ionit Behar: I would like to start by talking about drawing. You say that the drawing is an obscure territory that understands the internal relationships with oneself, that it recognizes but never understands. Could you explain what you mean when you say that the drawing “does not understand”? Would you say that this lack of understanding is a characteristic of art in general or particular to the drawing?
Angélica María Zorrilla: The exercise of not understanding occurs within the organic process of life. It is expressed in every human affair—call it art or drawing. I think about Clarice Lispector every time I get to the task of understanding something that exceeds me/us in size and power. I'd rather leave you with her:
I do not understand. This is so vast that surpasses any understanding. Understanding is always limited. But not understanding could not have borders. I feel that I am much more complete when I do not understand. Not understanding, in the way I say it is a gift. Not understanding, but not as a mere spirit. The good thing is to be smart and not understand. It is a strange blessing, as being crazy without being insane. It is a gentle indifference, is a sweetness of stupidity. Only occasionally the concern arrives: I want to understand a little. Not too much: but at least understand that I do not understand. 
IB: When you refer to your name, it seems as if you are talking about a search, maybe an existential search. What is the meaning of your name and why are you between two persons, between two places?
AMZ: Words have always been a strong place of reflection for me, starting with the ones that name me: Angélica (Angel) María (Mary), names that consist of two sacral, two very strong characters and concepts—that which dwells in heaven and that which ascends in body; accompanied by Zorrilla [striped polecat], the image of an animal that stinks, flees, and takes refuge in dens because it is a rodent. Hence this quest, this need to recognize myself as who I am. Linking it to the previous question, it is not one of understanding but one of reconciliation with being who I am.
Angélica María Zorrilla, (top) Portrait (bottom) Together, from Back and Forth / Ping-Pong. Courtesy of the artist
IB: To what extent are your drawings autobiographical? For example Albur Visiones del Adentro y del Afuera and Anatomías de la Melancolía seem to be representations of your internal and external being, with a focus on the anatomy of the body.
AMZ: The genesis can be traced back to me. I am convinced of the value of speaking in first person, but once I recognize myself I am able to see how that which names me is much bigger than me and, likewise, it contains many things and many more people.
The taste for anatomy comes from the contact I had with books on this topic that were in my house (my older brother is a doctor). I’m interested in the body as a technology of relationships and power, and in the search to clarify—or at least problematize—the inside and outside. I ask: From where do we see things? How does dwelling generate a possibility of being? This is my relationship with drawings, beyond the images that I make, I focus on the time I use in life, the realization of it.
IB: In many of your works you include a poetic introductory text that accompanies the drawings. How do you relate your drawings to your writing?
AMZ: Writing has been a constant task for me. In fact, I believe that I think better with words than images; it is much more work and time to decide what am I going to draw but the writing exercise flows like the lines that one writes on. There is a kind of symbiosis between word and image; often one meets the other. Other times, they are the same.
IB: What is your work process? How do the characters appear in your drawings?
AMZ: The process is somewhat erratic, a drift. It doesn’t always happen in the same way. Just like the tasks of Hercules, each one requires a specific solution from a specific position. I don’t feel there are many characters in my drawings, but there are many statements and allusions. I like to think that an image can be read from many different places and realities, always tempting the fate that gets tensed with my own obsession and tyranny.
Angélica María Zorrilla, (top) “Roquero” (bottom) "Oso Perezoso" from in Dispares-Disparate. Courtesy of the artist
IB: I note that the presence of melancholy is not just incidental, but rather it also becomes a central theme that enhances the complexity of your drawings. Also the relationship between the microcosm and the macrocosm appear to be part of this recurring melancholy in your work. What role does nature, Fauna and Flora, have in your works? For example, the animals represented in your series Dispares-Disparate.
AMZ: The melancholic humor exists not only in the human species but also in natural life; it has been one of those answers that appeared unsought. In animals, this melancholic disconnection becomes a fundamental manifestation: the pleasure for solitude, retreat, and silence. It is to understand that as a species, we are just small fragments and within the smallness we are the smallest. It has served me the list of animals present in this series; whatever the element that contains them—be it water, air, land—they prefer to stay out, wrapped in themselves.
IB: It is possible to see some common characteristics between the artists in Arco Colombia? Perhaps there is a detachment from political art, from art that deals with problems such as drugs and violence—known issues in relation to Colombia and Latin America. Would you say that? Did you know these participating artists before?
AMZ: Yes, I know the group and as far as I was informed, the curatorial vision was looking precisely at that: to draw a parallel discourse to violence. I don’t know if they were trying to move away from a political discourse, because it would be naive to think that something might be outside of that. At Arco Colombia you’ll find a selection of artists that addresses both the macro and micro political. I am glad that these spaces were opened for us.
Angélica María Zorrilla. Courtesy of the artist
IB: Lastly, could you describe your works that you will present at ARCOmadrid?
AMZ: In Madrid I will have two sets of drawings, one that departs from what is not easily said, where I turned to old envelopes of mail that no longer exist, an inventory of things and actions that seek to create their own world, anchored in the uses and ways of Emily Dickinson. The other series of drawings is Back and Forth, where I create an image from a word, a game that I played long time ago.
This interview has been translated from the original Spanish.
ArtSlant would like to thank Angélica María Zorrilla for her assistance in making this interview possible.
 Author's note: this is my translation of a Spanish quote by Clarice Lispector. The original quote sent by the artist is: “No entiendo. Esto es tan vasto que supera a cualquier entender. Entender es siempre limitado. Pero no entender puede no tener fronteras. Siento que soy mucho más completa cuando no entiendo. No entender, del modo en que lo digo es un don. No entender, pero no como un simple de espíritu. Lo bueno es ser inteligente y no entender. Es una bendición extraña, como tener locura sin ser demente. Es un manso desinterés, es una dulzura de estupidez. Sólo que de vez en cuando viene la inquietud: quiero entender un poco. No demasiado: pero por lo menos entender que no entiendo.”
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