Since the genesis of her career, Harmonia Rosales’s main artistic concern has focused on Black female empowerment in Western culture, depicting and honoring the African diaspora.
As a young girl, the impeccable skill and composition of the Renaissance masters' fascinated her but the depiction of white hierarchy and the idealization of subordinate women, often falling under Eurocentric notions of beauty, dissuaded her passion. Thus, her message is not to create an ideal or simply to copy, but rather to create a sense of harmony between the struggling dichotomies.
The artist is informed by the ebb and flow of contemporary society where she seeks to reimagine new forms of aesthetic beauty, snuggled somewhere between pure love and ideological counter-hegemony.
Nourished by her multicultural Afro-Cuban background, the Black female subjects in Rosales’s paintings are in memory of her ancestors and function as a way to heal and promote self-love. Her figures are astounding in the hues of their skin. The dark cast of her subjects is specifically meant to separate its viewer from physical reality and transport them to a world that largely transcends the two-dimensional canvas. In this universe, the Orishas represent physical manifestations of life’s healing tools. She asks that one sets aside any religious associations and focus on the historical meaning of each painting. These universal elements empower and provoke analysis and communication.
To further express the spiritual world, Rosales places blue and silver hues onto the subject’s skin, creating a natural luminescent glow against an often contrasting background. Additionally, the gilding of metals and rust provide a unique balance to her composition, allowing for a variety of textures on the canvas and serving as a motif for moral decay in society.
Rosales draws on the energy of living life as a woman of color and society's objectification of that identity. Yet her subjects embody something within us all as they serve as conduits to an inner struggle within our society, which she depicts through metaphorical crowns and deities. The primary purpose of her art is and will always be to encourage sympathy, empathy, and empowerment.
Harmonia Rosales: Reclaiming Lost Histories
New York Studio School
Nov 7, 2023Watch Here
Artist Harmonia Rosales describes the longevity of her work by employing decolonial practices to her paintings. She unmasks the stories of Yoruba deities (Orishas) and puts them at the center of her storytelling. By reclaiming these lost narratives, she brings power to them.
A Conversation with Harmonia Rosales
Cerebral Women Podcast
Aug 31, 2023Watch Here
This episode features Harmonia Rosales. Born in Chicago, Illinois, she is an Afro-Cuban American artist currently based in Los Angeles, California. Her exquisite canvases navigate, and question received narratives from ancient myths, Biblical stories, classical antiquity, and AfroCuban culture, while challenging Eurocentric perceptions of beauty.
Harmonia Rosales: Master Narrative
Spelman Museum of Fine Art
Aug 18, 2023Watch Here
The Harmonia Rosales: Master Narrative exhibition opened with an artists talk between Harmonia Rosales and Spelman Professor Emeritus, Arturo Lindsay. In this conversation about art and the African diaspora, they discuss art-making, identity, and the influence of the orishas.
THE BLACK BAROQUE PROJECT Visiting Artist Interviews: Harmonia Rosales
University of Chicago
May 1, 2023Watch Here
A Black Baroque conversation between Los Angeles based artist Harmonia Rosales and art historian Sophia Q. McCabe. The two discuss how Rosales's work engages with and subverts Baroque art to tell new stories of belonging through her reimaginations of 17th-century paintings that visualize the stories of the orishas, the survival of the Yoruba religion through the African diaspora, and Black female beauty and Black empowerment.
Harmonia Rosales: MASTER NARRATIVE
Memphis Brooks Museum of Art
Mar 10, 2023
A conversation between Los Angeles-based artist Harmonia Rosales and exhibition curator Dr. Patricia Daigle, MBMA Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. This event is presented in conjunction with the exhibition Harmonia Rosales: Master Narrative.
Modernizing Mary: Contemporary artists reinterpret an icon
The Getty Center
Dec 10, 2022Watch Here
The depiction of the Virgin Mary in visual art is a tradition stretching back almost 2,000 years. Her popularity over the centuries is well represented by many artworks in the Getty Museum, but Mary also continues to inspire contemporary artists. In this conversation, participants draw out the enduring appeal of this figure who serves as both an icon of compassionate devotion and cultural celebration, or an emblem of religious tradition and oppression to critique. Exploring why contemporary artists remain attracted to the many symbolisms of the Virgin Mary helps us understand how a visual theme that originated in the Middle Ages still has resonance today.
In Conversation: Deborah Roberts & Harmonia Rosales
UTA Artist Space
Nov 26, 2022Watch Here
Harmonia Rosales and Deborah Roberts discuss challenging the notion of ideal beauty from a marginalized perspective.
In Conversation: Harmonia Rosales & Robin Coste Lewis
UTA Artist Space
Oct 28, 2022Watch Here
In preparation for Harmonia Rosales’ GARDEN OF EVE exhibit, the artist and poet Robin Coste Lewis discuss artistic practices and reframing hegemonic narrative.