Abstract artist Capella Van Ryan is returning to Gibraltar where she and her husband Colin were married 13 years ago, to renew their vows and to hold a painting exhibition, tipped to launch on the very day of their anniversary, 24th September. Titled ‘The Way We Were’, the solo is unveiling a number of exclusive never-seen-before pieces inspired by the Rock and its significance to the well-travelled Irish artist, and she is keeping them hush-hush, avoiding posting online until the very day, previewing them in Gibraltar before moving on to the launch at itinerant exhibitions in Manhattan, Los Angeles and London. “I’ve waited until now to put this loving collection together, because it reflects my husband’s and mine 13 year together.” Lucky 13 for her: “Now that we’ve finally made it to the ‘teen’ segment of our life, I want to celebrate it with its representation.”
Her artistry is a nonchalant nod to the pseudo-figurative abstract style that allows the onlooker to appreciate landscapes hidden in the vivacious and energetic brushstrokes strewn in all the directions of her heart’s desire, in order to pile up texture and three-dimensionality for the focal point of any subject matter. This avows itself passionately, and tells tales of tan-coloured stalactites, golden sunset over glassy bays, foamy ship wakes in the deep blue, and even dramatic volcanic eruptions on the background of tropical Hawaiian skies. Sometimes Capella tips the scales towards full figurative with her fields of spring flowers, autumn countryscapes in which you can almost hear the russet leaves crunch under your feet, and wintry wonderlands where colours are frozen azure. Other times, she swings towards full abstract and lets pure colour do the talking in straight or curve lines or in solid building blocks reminiscent of wild child play in an 80s make-up artist’s beauty case.
Introducing herself in her virtual business card as ‘author, model, represented abstract artist, public figure and dance, yoga and Pilates instructor’, as well as ‘humanitarian’ for her indefatigable charity work, busy Capella published her debut novel The Snowboat in 2015, planning to make it the first instalment of an ambitious love & death decalogy that follows the thorny and sorrowful journey of a murderess from abused wife to her unique path towards liberation and redemption. The unconventional marriage of horror and romance, or perhaps ‘anti-romance’ is set in enchanted wintry Switzerland, where the snow muffles her outcries but is eventually stained maroon with her first gruesome assertion to catharsis.
The protagonist, Nicolette, is introduced as ‘a woman who wasn’t always every man’s dream’, but who knows exactly what she wants and how to get it. Her watching from the background what makes a woman desirable to all men eventually teaches her how to master her appearance and mannerisms to perfection, so that she becomes the showstopper any time she enters a room. But perfection comes with a price, especially for Nicolette who might have been remained naive at heart and perhaps delusional, despite her cynic quest for perfection, so when a wealthy businessman proposed just days after meeting her, she falls in love with the very idea of being in love and being loved, the illusion of feeling ‘more important than money and work to a man’, and she accepts lightly, because she is consumed with the yearning of making it work and the faith that love will blossom. But the honeymoon period is over too soon and, trapped in a physically and emotionally abusive relationship depicted in imaginative detail, she takes matters in her own hands to drastically end it, only to tumble over heels into a second self-destructive relationship.
Capella anticipates how the second book of the series, The Austrian Express, to be released later this year, will retrace Nicolette’s fleeing steps eastbound across the Alps, and eventually her seeking sanctuary in Gibraltar, of all places, in the noir Queen of Death.
Besides the inspiration for a collection of poems to be released next February with the working title Reflections of Yesterday, Gibraltar is the location for Capella’s standalone ‘almost autobiographic’ novel City by the Sea, whose publication is expected in early 2018: it will retrace her footsteps on the Rock and will acknowledge memories made and people met during her stay. To mention one for all is Maricela Hook, with whom Capella has forged a solid friendship and whom she actually regards as her ‘adoptive mother’ after Maricela attended her registry wedding. “She and I have kept in touch, and I will be returning soon to visit her. Therefore, it feels as though I have family there, as she is the dearest person I’ve ever been blessed to meet.”
This topic is particularly sensitive to the 32-year-old artist who lost her birth mother to breast cancer at a young age, and resorted to creative writing as a form of therapy and escapism. Later, she started her career as a paramedic instructor and moved on to personal training, founding her own company in the United States and eventually became an accountant. Her professional life always allowed time off to ‘travel the world in search of location and inspiration for her next novels’.
Capella has previously exhibited in San Diego, at the Spectrum Red Dot in Miami and Artexpo in New York, the Mall Galleries’ Federation of British Artists, the Agora Art Gallery in New York and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. View her artwork on www.artavita.com, www.aer4you.ie and www.agora-gallery.com.
photos | Colin Gibson