Figuring it Out in Santa Ana

On March 10, 2013 by Evan Senn

As an artist, figure drawing and figure painting are some of my favorite kinds of art to create. Taking from observation and the love of the human form, figure-based art is satisfying and deeply emotive. The human experience is often characterized by the replication or expression of the human form, as our vessel and our connector to the rest of the world. In Santa Ana, the new gallery space Q Art Salon has repurposed a live/work loft in the Artist’s Village to debut a new way of thinking about classic art practice and traditional rendering. The exhibition “Figured Out” sends the imagination soaring through figure-based artworks and opens up the preconceived notions of what figure-based art should be. Exploring the human figure through exquisitely realistic practice in paint, installation, ceramics, and even abstract psychedelic expression runs streaming through this exhibition with a fiery passion and perfect execution. The owners of Q Art Salon were very strategic about their choice for venue, and though these live/work lofts have been utilized as art exhibition spaces before, the Q Art Salon has the highest caliber of artwork exhibited in any of these spaces in previous years.

Natalia Fabia was raised in Southern California where she graduated from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, and still lives and works here. Fabia is inspired by light, color, punk rock music, tattoo culture, and shiny, sparkly psychedelic style fuels her paintings of sultry heavily tattooed and pierced women. Her paintings are large and exquisitely rendered in photo-realistic ways, she exhibits her interest in alternative subcultures through her art practice, and is well known for her unique style and content in So-Cal art. Her work has been featured in numerous gallery exhibitions including Thinkspace Gallery, M Modern and The Shooting Gallery. She has been featured in Angeleno, Juxtapoz, and New York Arts magazine as well as appearances on Miami Ink, Fox 11 News and Indie 103.1.

In one of her gorgeous large-scale paintings, a cute and vibrant young woman is getting tattooed in what looks like a tattoo shop, by a stylish male tattoo artist who doesn’t seem to care about her screaming in pain as she comfortably lays on a tattoo table in her roller skates and short-shorts. It is a cute and kitschy exploration of the subculture of tattooers and tattooees, and even references the crossover cultures of roller derby, and alternative fashion with the selective imagery used in this painting. It’s scene and perplexity as a composition is absolutely perfect, and staring at this paintings not only creates a narrative inside the viewers mind, but also passionately shows a realistic portrayal of life in these distinct cultures, giving insight to the outsiders.

In another Fabia work on view in “Figured Out,” she explores the classic nude. Fabia features a creative and heavily tattooed woman laying in an Olympia-style-pose on a chaise lounge. At first glance she seems very rockabilly, laying in her love of tattoos, extremely naked but seeming to be “clothed” in ink and art. Fabia invokes more subculture references in this piece, as is expected of Fabia, but the stunning execution of this painting is shocking and awe-inspiring. She has great use of reference in her imagery, especially the pose, the setting, and the traditional composition. The painting takes classic art history and places it in an extremely attractive subculture, involving the female gaze, the classic prostitute charms, and the creativity of the genre of graffiti, street art, rockabilly music and hairstyles, and the sex appeal of objectified tattooed woman. There are handfuls of other jaw-droppingly beautiful works in this show, including ceramic busts of tattooed people, using a physical engraving process into the clay as the line work of the tattoos. The use of alternative culture in this show makes this work extremely edgy and relevant, especially in an urban area like Santa Ana. This show has been packed to the brim every weekend since it opened in February. The owners stand around the salon every weekend smiling contently and talking to anyone who wants to engage them about the work and the space. The aim seems to be a visual exploration and mastery of a tremendous variety of styles and ownership of identity, the human form, and the connection we have to traditional styles of expression of such content. A thorough and meticulously curated exhibition, “Figured Out” seems to have something for every kind of taste, and the works featured truly satisfy my insatiable appetite for inspiring and impressive artwork and expression.


Sean Cheetham
Natalia Fabia
Maria Kreyn
Jeremy Lipking
F. Scott Hess
Jose Quant
Marc Trujillo
Eric Pedersen
Jonny Hart
Sonya Palencia
Jeff Nentrup
Hollis Dunlap
Adrian Gonzalez
David Simon
Daniel Landerman
Maurice Carmeli
Johnpaul Altamirano
Carlos Torres
Sergio Sanchez
Van Arno
William Wray
Joe Ongie
Farron Loathing
Chantal Menard

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Protected by WP Anti Spam