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Artist Viviana Hinojosa renders a world of whimsical animals

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Lee Steele
Lee Steele is the founding director of Roof Cat Media and has published Yucatán Magazine and other titles since 2012. Sign up for our weekly newsletters, so our top headlines will appear in your inbox each Monday and Thursday.

Mérida, Yucatan — In her art studio, Viviana Hinojosa enjoys the company of her seven cats while she paints whimsical portraits of their natural enemies: birds.

Yucatan ExpatBirds won’t come to her back patio because of the cats, but they are represented throughout her studio in offbeat, but realistic, works. The details are amazing.

“I was obsessed especially on how to draw the feathers,” says the essentially self-taught artist.

Viviana Hinojosa has devoted herself fulltime to art. Photo: Lee Steele

Going through some of her unframed canvas, Hinojosa explains why they are all wrapped in paper, some of it torn. “This is a little bit of a mess because I have to protect them from cats.”

Two months ago, Hinojosa decided that birds looked quite natural posing proudly in English Jacobean costumes, so she started rendering those.

A bird in a Jacobean collar? Why not, says artist Viviana Hinojosa.

More recently, she used colored pencils — a switch from her normal paints — to draw a hen house with chickens, chicks, and some unexpected kitchenware like pans and a colander.

“I find them cute in an ugly way,” she says.

It’s all part of the light-hearted humor that Hinojosa likes to inject into her work.

“Having a sense of humor is an important thing for me, and I do enjoy works with a sense of humor,” says Hinojosa, who is from Mexico City and studied in Barcelona in the early 2000s.

Hinojosa has devoted herself full time to her art for the last four years, and even now explores new paths. “I paint but I draw a lot and now I’m discovering the joys of colored pencils.”

Viviana Hinojosa renders henhouse life with incredible detail.

Seeing her finished work on her walls, it appears Hinojosa constantly enters new phases of experimentation.

One prominent painting in her studio, in the Santiago neighborhood, is an elegant family portrait commissioned by a Canadian friend. It’s as offbeat as anything else she’s has shown us.

Animal masks both hide and reveal the human subjects in this family portrait by Viviana Hinojosa. Photo: Lee Steele

“He wanted a portrait of his family, but each member of the family chose an animal that they feel represented by. It was going to be a little big awkward to paint a family of different animals, so I decided just to make them wear masks,” Hinojosa explains. “Masks show the real personality and hides it at the same time.”

Back in school, Hinojosa studied literature, but she found her strength in painting.

“I like reading, but I certainly never enjoyed writing. I felt more at ease and happier when I was drawing,” Hinojosa explains. “There’s a narrative element in  my work. I like telling stories. I’m just not good with words I guess.”

Hinojosa is part of an upcoming open-house collective exhibit in her Mérida studio. “Toma Cinco” runs 7 p.m. to midnight Saturday, Nov. 25, at Calle 61, No. 588A, between 74 and 77, Centro.

See some of Hinojosa’s work available as posters, throw pillows and other fun objects at Redbubble.

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