Loyal Gallery in Stockholm is about to close Tania Marmolejo's What Was Saved from the Fire, a solo exhibition of twelve oil paintings installed over two floors of the gallery. Before the show comes down on July 8, we wanted to share Tania's essay about the show, which you can read below. 

I have often been asked which of my possessions I would save from a fire, and without hesitation I answer “My grandmother Elsa’s sketchbook”. It is without a doubt the possession that is most attached to me emotionally, a compilation of drawings made by my Swedish maternal grandmother Elsa when she was a young teenager, teaching herself how to draw.

I sadly never met Elsa, she died before I was born. Fire is what tragically took her life, but fire is also the passion she had for art, that I feel got passed down to me and has connected me to her in many ways. I was always fascinated by her drawings since I was a little girl, and they were the biggest influence in my own desire to draw and paint. And though she was also a painter and mastered her craft, it was her sketchbook full of cartoons that captivated my attention the most.

A frustrated artist, Elsa wished as a young woman that she could have studied art in Stockholm, but the economic and gender boundaries of the time prohibited her from doing so. Growing up in a home that fully supported my own artistic passions, and being allowed to study and to pursue art as a career, I feel I am now happily responsible for carrying on her dream somehow. I feel incredibly humbled and proud that I have the chance to show some of my favorite of her sketches next to my paintings, (in Stockholm!) and show how her story has come full circle.

The paintings I created for this exhibition reflect a nostalgia for my childhood summers spent in Sweden, the happy memories that connect me to my mother and grandmother’s homeland. I’ve added a couple of her little drawings to a few paintings of mine to show the presence they have always had. Taking reference from old photographs in the use of color and mood, and also from the memories and emotions that come from those moments, I’ve created an emotional and mental conversation with Elsa (and hopefully with the viewer), of experiences I would have liked to have shared with her, an acknowledgement of what her art and being connected to Sweden always meant to me, and an appreciation of how life can be such a fragile, fleeting, beautiful thing. –Tania Marmolejo, May 2023