Paula Barrágan was born in Quito, Ecuador. Though Paula’s parents are native to both Ecuador and New Zealand, and her studies have carried her from The School of Visual Arts in Paris to the San Francisco Art Institute to the Pratt Institute in New York, she draws her inspiration primarily from the vibrant culture of her birth country. Echoes of the highly detailed and earthy artwork native to Ecuador can be seen in Barrágan’s wide range of work: in her design, paintings, etchings, textiles, carpets, silkscreens, and jewelry. Barrágan’s accomplishments encompass international solo and group exhibitions in New Zealand, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, France, Spain, Chile, Peru, Ecuador and the United States. She has completed numerous commissions for diverse projects in etching, carpet and mural design. Barrágan has also been a design teacher at the Universidad Católica in Quito, and a representative of Ecuador for the “Painting with Children” program with Hillary Clinton. In recent years she has flourished in illustration, creating unique lively and colorful images for children’s books. Her capacities are vast, and speak not only of her creative talent, but also of her tireless discipline and drive for creative exploration.
In Barrágan’s oil paintings, simplicity and intricacy are woven together with harmony. Her palate is broad: fiery reds, sea blues, and mossy greens are nestled together in multi-hued shimmering pools or smooth opaque fields. Within these fields of color, Barrágan carves into the surface of the paint; close inspection of the painting reveals figures, churches, spiny creatures, words and numbers, even eyes gazing back at us. The overall impact is magnificent. From across a room the paintings captivate one’s eye with their boldness. At the same time, one wants to explore the sensual matte glow of the surface, and decode the minute carvings each painting holds.