The self-taught Spanish illustrator Roberto Maján grew up in Soria in the central north part of the country, and at the age of eighteen moved to Madrid to work as an illustrator for publishers, magazines and newspapers including Expansión, Actualidad Económica, Vogue, El Sol, El País, Health and Beauty, Anaya, Santillana, and Edelvives.

In 2006 he founded the Artichoque publishing house, which has published several of his own illustrated books including Kamasutra, which won the Daniel Gil Diploma, and Petronia y la Reina Bigotuda (Petronia and the Mustachioed Queen), awarded Best Illustrated Children’s Book in 2007.

Sweet Jim, 2012

His trademark style is working in bright colours in solid blocks, geometric shapes and repeating patterns, mainly representing human figures. His favourite themes reveal human passions, with a particular emphasis on love, sex and food.

In his earlier work Maján relied heavily on humour, and though many of his recent paintings and prints – especially the more commercial ones – still celebrate the lighter side of human experience, he is not afraid to make images where conflict makes human relationships difficult, and love acquires a quality of tragedy. Patterned carpets become intestines, roses and hyacinths take on the form of deadly weapons, and carrots become daggers. Thus what seems like an image of everyday humanity, sweaty and smelly, can transcend the more obvious meaning and take on a miraculous transformation to become artistic poetry.

El Mar de la Fertilidad (The Sea of Fertility), 2020

Roberto Maján has an extensive online presence – his website can be found here, his Instagram account here, and his Facebook page here.

He is represented by the La Fiambrera gallery for his paintings and prints; their website is here.

We are very grateful to our Russian friend Yuri for introducing us to the work of this artist.


Example illustration