Ana Liz Cordero


Ana Liz Cordero has always had a fascination with nature and its conservation, as a result of her Ecuadorian heritage and her awareness of the Incan people of her native country. Her curiosity and admiration for this ancient culture stems from childhood trips to the countryside in the provinces of Azuay and Cañar with her father. Here she witnessed the practices of collecting and recycling in Incan settlements, and gained an understanding of the communities’ way of living that took advantage of natural resources. The young artist saw natural materials being used for a range of purposes, including building their adobes: dwellings made from bricks comprised of a mixture of soil, sand, water and straw, with braided reed roofs. The artist reflects, "I remember that they collected what the "Pacha Mama" (Mother Earth) gave them in the lands. They shared that food with us, because they made us feel that we were part of their family. They did not have much but, what they had, they shared it".

The practice of using what was given by nature enthralled Ana Liz. As the artist says, “My art has Inca antecedents, giving value to their care for nature. That's my identity as an Ecuadorian: to remember to take care of the ecosystem and biodiversity; to generate connection with human beings and their natural environments.” In her art practice, she applies this knowledge and experience to the materials she uses and the ideas she embodies: that of the unity of man, nature, and creator. Ana Liz’s work maintains an abiding connection to the Bible, emphasizing positive messages that allow viewers to imagine, feel and remember what was and is our nature. The artist says that the use of abstraction in her work “helps me find the essence of God in his creation, reminding me that we must preserve his legacy. Nature and human beings have always been part of a single creation; and my work always aims to remember that unity.”

Abstraction is a key feature of Ana Liz’s work, in conjunction with her Ecuadorian heritage and her current home in Dubai, where she has been based since 2019. Similar to the ways in which the artist saw the Incans using natural materials in their everyday lives, Ana Liz uses elements from the UAE area that she finds in the desert, in the sea, and in the mountains. Here, she not only seeks materiality for her works but also finds a source of deeper inspiration. Other influences include the abstract sculpture of British artists Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth, whose semi-abstract sculptures often respond to the natural environments in which they sit. Cordero’s work also responds to land art, a movement inspired by minimalism and conceptual art as a way to think about and express the relationship of human beings to the planet. She admires Renaissance artist Michelangelo Buonarroti not only for his renowned sculptures, but also for his role as a painter and architect. For Ana Liz, the composition of Michelangelo’s works and their attempt at perfection is a source of inspiration, and she identifies with his statement: "The true work of art is but a shadow of divine perfection." She also takes inspiration from his most famous sculpture, David (1501-1504), which was made from a discarded piece of marble. For Cordero, making use of even the smallest resource and not discarding it is to be aware of the importance of caring for the environment, and the need to take advantage of every minimal resource.

This idea is central to Cordero’s own work, where she continuously mixes layer after layer of various natural materials that she finds in her local area such as leaves, flowers, sand, soil, and shells. Cordero says, "I collect everything and that is the skin of my painting. Each painting has a personal and unique seal." The use of a wide range of materials and the practice of layering gives her abstract works a sense of depth, even a sculptural quality. Her images capture the essence of nature that she calls "organic abstraction," and reflect her desire to separate from reality in order to connect with the spiritual through art. Nature, art and the divine are all inextricably connected for the artist, who says, "Nature speaks to us with its details, shapes, and colors, it is the source of connection with God, who helps us to search for the true essence of the human being." The preservation of nature, then, is tantamount to the preservation of spirituality, which is why the significance of care and conservation is omnipresent in her work. She uses a monochrome palette to communicate the essence of nature, emphasizing the shapes and movement of the landscapes that inform her work. "Rugged landscapes, mountains, plants - they have different shapes, movements. That's why my art is not flat, because movement is life."

Ana Liz is continuously exploring, experimenting, and reevaluating her work, and is increasingly interested in alternative and more natural ways of creating art. The desert, the mountains, the birds, and the plants all contribute to her research and provide new ideas for her practice of organic abstraction. Materials that, for some, are dead and discarded, come back to life in Cordero’s works and give rise to new shapes and colors revealed by nature. Using nature itself as raw material, Cordero makes it tangible and permanent through the techniques of abstraction and layering that she uses. Her work reflects her passion for the nature that she loves, and aims to promote a practice of care through its enhancement and preservation in her paintings.

Cecilia Ruggeri