The embrace has been a constant theme in art since the first erotic stone carvings in Indian temples to the Renaissance masters, the neoclassical movement with Antonio Canova’s sculptures and more recently, emblematic works such as Rodin’s bronze The Kiss.

From Picasso to Roy Lichtenstein, the embrace has created some of the most powerful photographs of the 20th century, including the fleeting meeting of lips in front of Paris’ Hotel du Ville by Robert Doisneau and Alfred Eisenstaedt legendary moment of a U.S. Navy sailor grabbing and kissing a stranger in Times Square on Victory over Japan Day in 1945.

The act of the embrace motivated artist Maripaz Jaramillo to think about the emotionally charged peace in her native Colombia and the positive message that can emerge if Colombians are willing to “embrace” this historic time when one of the longest internal conflicts in the world ends. While the guerrilla was negotiating an arduous peace process with the government in Havana, Cuba, Jaramillo began preparing an exhibit for the Baobab Gallery in Bogotá that consists of 14 acrylic paintings and 30 graphic works titled “Abrazos”.

Maripaz’s artistic production is characterized by the use of strong colors and lack of finesse in the strokes. Her paintings and drawings create a unique visual alphabet that “does not aim to replicate reality but rather interpret it”, she said. In Abrazos, green is prevalent, expressing the vitality of nature, especially the exuberance of Colombia’s coffee region, which the artist visits regularly.

Sensuality is a constant theme in her extensive body of work and that began during the 1970s with a series of large prints of female characters. While living in Paris, a city known for its lithographic workshops and graphic tradition immortalized by Gustave Doré and Toulouse Lautrec, Jaramillo, studied with the prestigious printmakers Hayter & Atelier. Her work has been exhibited at bienales in San Juan, Puerto Rico (1979, 1983 and 1988); the Norway Biennale (1980 and 1982); London Biennale (1981); Paris Biennale (1985), and the Cuenca Biennale, Ecuador (1987).

Even though Abrazos is infused with a visible desire, Jaramillo’s heroines have their found their match, embracing men, and a departure from her previous all-female cast. In this tropical expressionism a sense of reality is ever-present, even though the artist emphasizes that her art is non political, but an exploration of the complexities surrounding relationships – with each other and as the exhibitions shows, with a larger social canvas.

Jaramillo’s kisses and hugs reflect the solitude of existence, and this important artist also  shows us, that loneliness can take on color and a form of its own.

The exhibition runs until April 21

Galería Baobab – Calle79 B No.8 – 21