In "La Ira / Anger," Marianela de la Hoz painted her mother hovering over a table with a bowl of pins and two voodoo dolls; one is the artist's father, whose heart has been gouged out by a bloody-beaked crow perched on his leg, the other his imaginary, topless mistress. The madwoman is pulling on her gray hair, her face contorted by gleeful rage.
"Wrath, in this case, is full of jealousy and rancor," de la Hoz, a surrealist painter, explains.
Her mother has seen the painting, and de la Hoz says her reaction was, "I look so beautiful." The artist laughs. "She doesn't get it."
De la Hoz moved to San Diego from Mexico City 10 years ago. She's been drawing since childhood and says it's her way of understanding the world. More specifically, at her Vista home and art studio she's an explorer of human nature's dark side.
In 2011, de la Hoz (marianeladelahoz.com) got a phone call from an artist asking if she'd create new works for Seven Deadly Sins, a show opening at 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 6 at Mesa College. She was busy then—and still is, preparing for Heaven and Earth, the Determined Freedom of an Undetermined Life, her solo show at the San Diego Museum of Art, opening Saturday, Oct. 13. Not wanting to miss an opportunity, she contacted a collector in Mexico City who'd commissioned her to create a series of Seven Deadly Sins paintings back in 2005; de la Hoz was able to borrow her former work, which will be on view at Mesa's gallery through Oct. 1.
She says she uses common images of flesh and soul to comment on issues ranging from sex addiction to apathy bred by materialism—"Lust" and "Sloth," respectively. She's opinionated about religious hypocrisy, evident in her painting "Greed," which shows an exhausted Catholic priest passed out at a dining table full of food, his fingers on the rim of a wine glass, a little boy curled up on a nearby plate.
While de la Hoz is pleased to exhibit her older pieces, she's excitedly finishing up work for her solo show at the Museum of Art, where she'll tell the story of Eve in a modern context.
"I've been making an assemblage for the paintings, to give them a better stage," she says. "For the show, there's only one piece: It's an altar, but it has 11 paintings on it."
Despite the depressing subject matter, de la Hoz speaks brightly about her work and laughs often when describing the disturbing details that went into it.
"We have a dark side, and that's what I love to paint," she says. "Humans are neither saints nor devils.We aren't perfect, yet we're beautiful, and incredible."