H is for Maria Herreros

H is for Maria Herreros

Photo: BERTA PFIRSIC / El País, 2017


When curating an exhibition I strive to express a concept through the selection of works and artists. Maria Herreros was the obvious choice, because the gorgeously illustrated book Paris sera Toujours Paris had just been published when I started my project. Maria had also met Marika Maijala on Harakka island while she was visiting Finland in 2018, and I knew they appreciated each other’s work. When you see Maria’s dazzling Paris illustrations, you can almost imagine yourself there, back in the golden era of the 1920s, in the middle of Parisian café fantasy, listening to jazz music, having your favorite drink and watching Josephine Baker perform at the Moulin Rouge. She manages to catch so well that romantic atmosphere we all want to experience, that you can almost be sure that she is not from there.

And if you think that, you are right: Illustrator Maria Herreros (b. 1983) has graduated from the arts department of Universidad Politécnica de Valencia. She has a degree in Fine Arts and postgraduate in Professional Illustration, and has exhibited her work in USA, Spain, Canada, Mexico, Poland, China, Chile or Portugal, among others. Clients of the well-known illustrator include Reebok, Asus, Coca Cola, Mahou, Vogue, Zara, Anthropologie, Sony Music, Uniqlo, Lennyletter, the Malala Fund and Kenzo. Her publishers are Lunwerg, De Ponent and Taschen, amongst many others, and her work has been published in magazines such as SModa EL PAÍS, Vein, YoDona El Mundo, La Vanguardia, Cinemanía and Minchô. Maria Herreros is an ardent artist passionate about her work, and this will be the first time her illustrations are on view in the Nordic countries.

Maria Herreros: Book cover illustration of Paris Sera Toujours Paris / Watercolor and graphite on paper, 2018

Maria Herreros’ iconography walks joyfully between the roaring twenties, happy sixties, pop culture and contemporary anthropology. The flavor of her art is in the details. Herreros uses photographs as a base for her drawings, but instead of creating duplicates she brings her subjects to life revealing whole new sides of them. For Herreros, the imperfection is beautiful. Her work balances between the sweet and the grotesque and she names empathy as her biggest influence. Even there is nothing boylike about her appearance. she proudly applies the term “tomboy” to herself and there are clear references to feminist thinking in her choice of subjects, such as La Garconne (The Bachelor Girl).

At the exhibition, the visitors have a chance to enjoy the majority of Maria Herreros’ original works from the book: Máximo Huerta | Maria Herreros: Paris sera toujours Paris. (224 p. Lunwerg Editores. 2018). Due to long distance, Maria was not engaged on the process of selecting the works for the exhibition. Instead, she gave me a free hand to choose. After seeing the richness of art-historical, cultural and intellectual reference to be found in the book and its illustrations with my own eyes, I was impressed. It is a plentiful list of everyone who was “someone” in 1920s Paris, when the artistic ferment and low prices attracted writers and artists from around the world and city reestablished as a capital of art, music, architecture, literature, fashion and cinema. I decided to forget about the minimalistic aesthetics and present the majority of Herreros’ works in the exhibition. The number of detailed drawings gives an idea of the huge amount of illustrators’ work for one book.



Further reading:

Anthropologie: Life Imitates Art: Maria Herreros, 2019

Virginia Capellas: Drawing glances

Máximo Huerta | Maria Herreros: Paris sera toujours Paris. 224 p. Lunwerg Editores. 2018. Language: Spanish

There is a limited amount of books for sale in the exhibition. You can pre-order a book (37 €) via email to assure yourself a copy!