(from photo collection Mabel Arce: At Studio. By Nick Moodie)

The painting as a place, where something happens

That which my mind drives through my hand is constantly tested by my eye. The eye betrays me, restricting the shapes, making them identifiable and related to things that were before and things that existed already. That which didn’t exist before is painted, and is precisely what I’m looking for.

This is my figurative challenge: being a figure but not with the same prime nature, nor in favour of it. It is not about using the figures as a resource, but as a way of exploring… and what do they explore? Both the inner matter and everything around them. In that moment of brief encounter between these two perceptions, they crash, and what they carry inside is detached. It flies up, and shows itself for you to discover.

The action, and the form of the action is part of the meaning too.

In this universe of encounters and coexistence between opposite or contradictive natures, dozens of emotions attached to memories; desires, criticism, or fears… (or fantasies fluttering in my head) are gathered. It´s at the end when everything pauses… on that painted surface, so I take a deep breath and observe the questions and the answers all together for the first time, because they are waiting for me to release them.

They are no longer living in me – they have become an object.


Mabel Arce was born in Santander, Spain, in 1970. She has lived in Madrid and Rome. Currently she lives and works in Cornwall, UK, with her husband and her 3 kids.

1988-93 Master´s degree in Fine Arts from Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Major, painting.
1995 Printing techniques at The Printmaking Workshop, New York.
1996 Photography workshop co-ordinated by Chema Mádoz and Ciuco Gutierrez, Menéndez Pelayo International University, Santander, Spain.
2000 Contemporary Art Workshop, directed by G. Perez Villalta. Círculo de Bellas Artes, Madrid.

1993 Grant from Facultad de Bellas Artes de Madrid in Ayllon, Segovia, Spain. Painting Award Caja de Ahorros y Monte de Piedad in Ayllón, Segovia, Spain.1994 Finalist of the VI Edition Scholarships for Artistic Creators, Banesto Foundation.

1995 II Painting Workshop, directed by Joan Hernández Pijuan. Marcelino Botín Foundation, Santander, Spain.

1998 Second prize III National Sports Painting Competition Unipublic, Córdoba, Spain.

1999 First prize XV BMW Painting Award. Acquisition prize, III Visual Arts Competition, Hall El Brocense, Cáceres, Spain.

2004 Selected to create the official poster for 53rd Santander International Festival.

2015 Mebas space. MAS –Museo de Arte Moderno y Contemporáneo de Santander, Spain.

2012 Swing of Powers: associations and contradictions. Del Sol Street Gallery.

2009 Transform the Numbers into Feelings. May Moré Gallery.

2006 Argenta Gallery, Valencia, Spain. Readings of an apprentice, May Moré Gallery.

2005 El Puente de la visión. MAS and Obra Social Caja Cantabria, Santander.

2005 The faces of Rome. Arte Periférica Gallery, Lisbon.

2004 A burnt forest. May Moré Gallery, Madrid.

2002 With almost nothing. Femenino Plural Cycle. Luz Norte. Department of Culture, Cantabria Government, Santander.

2001 Crossing of times. Arte Periférica Gallery, Lisbon.

1999 With the feet in water. Altalene Gallery. Madrid.

1998 Castles in the air. Arte Periférica Gallery, Lisbon.

1996 Puerta de Toledo Market, Madrid. El Foro Cultural Centre, Madrid. Gaviria Palace, Madrid. Ateneo of Madrid.

2019 Aqua Terra. 1&1 Colecciones. MAS – Museo de Arte Moderno y Contemporáneo de Santander y Cantabria. Spain.
Drawing Performance. The Bowie Lounge 3 TIME. AMATA, Falmouth University. Cornwall, UK.
2013 Miradas de Mujer Festival. Norte Collection. Biblioteca Central, Santander, Spain.
2007 Beauty and Sadness. Contemporary Art in Cantabria. Travelling exhibition in Germany and Portugal.
2006 Creadors solidàries amb rudraksha. [Creators in solidarity with rudraksha] Valencia University. ARTE SANTANDER’06. May Moré Gallery. ARTE SANTANDER’06. Argenta Gallery.
2005 ARTE MIAMI’05. Argenta Gallery, Valencia. Work on paper. May Moré Gallery, Madrid.
2004-2005 Testimoni Collection 03/04. Plaza Conde de Rodezno Exhibition Hall, Pamplona, Spain.
2004 ARCO’04. Arte Periférica, Portugal. ARTE SANTANDER’04. May Moré Gallery. Graphic work. Argenta Gallery, Valencia. ARTE LISBOA’04. Arte Periférica Gallery, Portugal.
2003 ARCO’03. Honourable Mention, IV Painting and Photography Award ABC. ARTE LISBOA’03. Arte Periférica, Portugal.
2002 ARCO’02. Arte Periférica, Madrid. Femenino Plural, UIMP, Santander.
2001 ARCO’01. Arte Periférica, Madrid. XV BMW Painting Award. San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Madrid.
2000 FAC’00. Arte Periférica. Lisbon, Portugal. III Visual Arts Competition El Brocense. Pedrilla Museum. Cáceres. IX Painting Competition Iberdrola-UEX, Chartered Architects, Cáceres.
1999 ARCO’99. Arte Periférica, Madrid. FAC’99. Arte Periférica. Lisbon, Portugal. VI Prize El Foro-La Voz de Pozuelo, Madrid. I Painting Competition, Nicómedes García Gómez Foundation, Segovia.

Ayllón Museum, Gaviria Palace, Banesto Collection, Santander Bank Collection, Council of Cáceres, BMW Collection, Norte Collection, Testimoni Collection-La Caixa, Obra Social Caja Cantabria, MAS- Santander Art Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, and several Private Collections.