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Interview: Gema Larios, Winner of Gibraltar International Body Art

Soraya Fernández · Photos: Gema Larios · John M. Piris

Art, creativity and talent imprinted on skin: Interview with Gema Larios, winner of the Gibraltar International Body Art Competition 2019.

La Línea-born Gema Larios creates marvellous works of art on the human body. As a testament to her talent, she won the Gibraltar International Body Art Competition this year for the second time

Gema Larios Calderón is another surprising artist to have hailed from La Línea. She studied Theatrical Scenography in Granada and Characterization and Makeup in Malaga. She also makes headgear.

Gema Larios Winner of Gibraltar International Body Art Competition 2019

She offers art classes for children through her ‘Reiniciarte workshop’, held at the Casa de la Cultura in La Línea, and her impressive body designs have earned her the first prize in the International Body Art Competition in Gibraltar. This is the second time she has won this award in this competition.

The theme of this year’s competition was music. Gema Larios crafted an original design with which she paid a personal tribute to flamenco. “I like almost every kind of music, well, except reggaeton,” she vehemently clarifies, “but especially flamenco, I love it. It’s part of me and I wanted to express it. I started to look for and think about the symbolism of flamenco and translate it into a design”, she says.

Body Art

At the competition, the model presented a beautiful and original design in reddish tones designed by Gema Larios, depicting Paco de Lucía playing the guitar on her back, Camarón on her legs and Picasso’s Guernica bull, “because I’m against bullfighting, and I thought that this bull also expresses suffering, as does flamenco”. The mantle of the Virgin, carnations, a heart on the throat “to express the feeling that comes from there” … fire, a knife…

The beauty of the ephemeral

Gema Larios Winner of Gibraltar International Body Art Competition 2019

Hours upon hours of studying, designing and producing-come with an expiry date. Gema Larios is not hindered by the temporary nature of these creations; quite the opposite: “That’s the beauty of it, that it’s so ephemeral. It’s not something static, like a painting. I see these characters that I created come to life, and I can’t stop looking at them. My work comes to life. The model is important, too. They must have a certain expression to adapt to the character and get into the role. Not everyone can be a body paint model”.

Other than in Gibraltar, there are hardly any body painting festivals or competitions in the rest of the region. That’s a shame, since it is quite a spectacle. Which municipality is up for it?

Art, creativity and talent imprinted on skin: Interview with Gema Larios, winner of the Gibraltar International Body Art Competition 2019.

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