Tania Brun prefers to showcase her artwork in artisanal beer halls rather than pristine,uninviting and clinically white art galleries. She feels more at ease lost in the crowd at loud impromptu punk shows instead of quiet spaces where, she says, “I am aware of all of my thoughts.” One of her favorite places to visit in her hometown of Arequipa is La Campiña, the countryside in the outskirts of the city, which allows her to escape the racket of its growing urbanization.
Indeed, Tania is an artist that has gone off the beaten path and, despite her inclination towards less social activities, her creations continue to captivate many and hold a magnetic appeal. “I feel a little apart from the [traditional] artistic world. I have friends who participate in various activities but I feel like I am in a bubble; I have a solitary character,” she admits.
Tania is an imaginative illustrator whose introversion has perhaps allowed her to create images that touch upon very personal yet universal concepts and emotions. The duality of life and death has been a constant in her work, as well as the beautiful accidents that happen in between.
“My mother’s family was artistically inclined, and she would have me draw to entertain myself as a child. It all started from there,” she explains. Not only did Tania’s mother help spark her creative vigor, her mother’s death also played an important role in her artwork.
“Since a trip to Mexico in 2007, I started drawing a lot of calaveras [colorful skulls depicted in Mexican art, especially in Day of the Dead celebrations],” she continues. “What I liked about Mexico is that for most people, death was viewed as something normal, natural, a part of life. I also saw this in the highlands of Peru, in the sierra. As a creative outlet this helped me process the death of my mother. I became more interested in the philosophical aspect of death, too. There’s this ancient artistic expression, memento mori [a practice of including a skull in drawings as a reminder of one’s mortality that originated in Ancient Rome]; it’s interesting how the theme appears time and again in different cultures.” Thanks to a course she took last year, Tania’s work has evolved thematically and her medium of choice is now engravings, grabados. “The professor of the course is brilliant. He prohibited me from drawing more _calaveritas_,” she amusingly recalls. “It was challenging at first, but now I see that it was very helpful.” Her recent artwork includes nature as a concept, with depictions of flowers and also animals. “There’s a huaco (pre‐Columbian pottery) of a deer from the Mochica culture that I saw in Cusco. In many cultures the deer has great significance. I did a drawing of this huaco and behind it I drew a sky full of stars and the Orion constellation [named after the hunter Orion in Greek mythology]. I put the deer and the hunter together: two parts of everything, two aspects/compliments of a person.
Tania’s artistic career is marked by moments of personal connections and meaning that is often lost in artists who create with ambitions of exhibiting in traditional, institutionalized outlets. One type of work that she holds dear to her heart is illustrating album covers. “A lot of my friends are musicians, it’s some of the work that I’m most proud of. I did a cover for the Peruvian tropical, psychedelic, electronic band Dengue Dengue Dengue. It also gives me great joy that a larger audience in other parts of the world sees this kind of work that I do. Another band I’ve worked with is Aeropajitas, a punk band from Lima. They released a vinyl record that I illustrated; it was a beautiful experience.”
_See Tania’s work at Chelawasi Public House, and follow her on_ _Facebook_
Tania Brun, an artist from Arequipa, shares her creative world with black and white images inspired by nature.
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