Portrait of Margarita Morselli

Born in Asunción, Paraguay, in 1952, Margarita Morselli holds a degree in music education (piano); she is a registered notary public with a degree from the Universidad Nacional de Paraguay School of Law. She took art classes with Olga Blinder (1939–2008) at the Instituto para el Desarrollo Armónico de la Personalidad (IDAP), which Blinder herself founded. She studied art history at the Escolinha de Arte with the Brazilian professor Lívio Abramo (1902–2008). At the Instituto Superior de Bellas Artes in Asunción, she studied aesthetics with Dorothée Bauerle-Willert and printmaking and printing techniques with Michael Krueger (b. 1967). Starting with her first solo show—held at the Galería Arte-Sanos, Asunción, in 1982—Morselli's work has focused on abstraction with reference to real spaces. Her painting is bound to architecture and makes use of mineral tones (shades of ocher, orange, and blue), which she applies using a paintbrush and airbrush.

A recurring theme in her work centers on stairs; she either heeds or disrupts the stair form by creating the illusion of perforating the two-dimensionality of the canvas. This yields an uncertain and seemingly useless space. In 1984, while working on a series of stair and architecture paintings, she produced the video Autorretrato (Self-portrait) dealing with the tension experienced by a woman endlessly climbing a flight of stairs. The work can be interpreted in at least two ways: first, as a commentary on the seemingly endless dictatorship in Paraguay of Alfredo Stroessner (1954–89); second, as an interrogation of female subjectivity moving upward as it searches for a way out or for a response to vague questions. Her more recent work addresses environmental concerns and includes vegetable forms and animals that, as figurative elements, create a certain tension in relation to her abstractions.

Morselli is a pioneer in Paraguay in the use of video as a form of artistic expression. She has also designed costumes for theater and dance pieces. She was invited to participate in the 18th São Paulo Bienal (1985), curated by Sheila Leirner; she represented Paraguay at the 1st Art Biennial at Canning House, London (1987), and at the 3rd Biennial of Cuenca, Ecuador (1992). In 1990 she was awarded grand prize at the twentieth anniversary of the Bosque de los Artistas, an art space created by the sculptor Hermann Guggiari (1924–2012), which had been the center of cultural life in Asunción from the 1970s. She also received the jurors' prize at the Martel Biennial in Asunción. A permanent member of the Centro Cultural de la República and president of the International Art Biennial, both in Asunción, Morselli teaches at IDAP. She is a founding member of Gente de Arte, an association of Paraguayan artists and cultural workers. Her work is in the collections of the Art Museum of the Americas and National Museum of Women in the Arts, both in Washington, DC; Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Concepción, Paraguay; and Museo del Barro, Asunción.

—Andrea Giunta

Selected Solo Exhibitions

1982 Pinturas, Galería Arte-Sanos, Asunción, Paraguay

1987 Margarita Morselli of Paraguay: Paintings, Museum of Modern Art of Latin America, Washington DC

1991 Derrumbe, Galería Arte-Sanos, Asunción, Paraguay

1991 Mon repos, Casa Hassler, San Bernardino, Paraguay

2004 Punto de mira, Casa Hassler, San Bernardino, Paraguay 

Selected Bibliography

Díaz de Espada de Ramírez Boettner, Sara. Mujeres paraguayas contemporáneas. Asunción, Paraguay: Talleres Gráficos Makrografic, 1989.

Escobar, Ticio. Los argumentos: Exposición de artes visibles. Asunción, Paraguay: Centro Cultural de España, 2002.

———. Una interpretación de las Artes Visuales en el Paraguay. Asunción, Paraguay: Centro Cultural Paraguayo Americano, 1984.

Forjadores del Paraguay, Diccionario Biográfico. Buenos Aires: Distribuidora Quevedo de Ediciones, 2000.

Margarita Morselli of Paraguay: Paintings. Washington, DC: Museum of Modern Art of Latin America, 1987.