Yunuen Esparza

deconstructive painter incorporating Augmented Reality


Pictures at an exhibition come to life - either on a smartphone or tablet! The free download of a cleverly designed augmented reality (AR) Art-App (available for Android and IOs) „is giving a new, expanded experience for the spectator and trying to get him/her inside the world of the painting“, this Mexican innovative artist told „It’s kind of the journey for the art. Everything is going to come alive, I think. It gives another dimension.“

Yunuen Esparza

deconstructive painter incorporating Augmented Reality


Yunuene besides her favourite work 'O. cuniculus. Magic Music Show'
Yunuene besides her favourite work 'O. cuniculus. Magic Music Show' | © Yunuene (private)

„The painting is transformed from one of sorrow, to a celebration of the hope of life after death.“ This statement of a journalist from the daily newspaper mentioned above refers to the piece ‚The Funeral‘. It shows „a geodesic trumplayer in muted grays and browns appearing to play a mournful tune“. Thanks to AR „colourful triangles shoot from the instrument as a raucous tune blasts from device’s speakers.“

Yunuen Esparza (artist name: Yunuene) started including Augmented Reality in her works in 2014. She (* 1975) earned a graphic design degree from Universidad Intercontinental, a private University in her hometown of Mexico City. The capital and the largest city of Mexico as well as the most populous one in North America is her source of inspiration. With a population of 22 million it is the sixth-largest metropolitan area in the world and full of contrasts. The beautiful is next to the ugly. This chaos is reflected in Yunuene’s art too. “Life is chaos, I concentrate on giving order to this chaos by using geometric figures and color to infuse my compositions with a sense of harmony“, she notices. „Yunuene’s artistic style encompasses a multitude of personal, artistic, and cultural references that reflect the plurality of her personal life and contemporary social issues“, states the online gallery Saatchi Art. „She often plays with viewers’ perceptions of the body, gender and the metaphysical.“ An observation that is shared by Álvaro Sandoval. „This work is an optical game plagued with reflective secrets whose geometric scopes succeed in testing the spectator against the dimensions and nuances of the paintings“, knows the Mexican museographer and curator. “When a painter does not adopt a stereotypical colour palette, one can think that he is innovative, risky and even audacious. This happens with Yunuene's work, the stability of the scenes is contrasted with the dynamism of the colour. As viewers we are encouraged to look out into the world behind the wet glass, we could wipe away the mist to see through a window. Or we should contemplate what this stained glass window shows us, achieved from the magical assembly of secret grids and ethereal images shown under the kaleidoscopic and creative magnifying glass of Yunuen Esparza.“

„Today, with augmented reality technology, it is possible to overcome the limits of the static image, discovering the dynamic and communicative life hidden in the artistic pieces, thus achieving a new aesthetic“, is to be read on „Yunuene's work arises from an exploration of the expressive possibilities of technology in the creation of an image that never ceases to surprise us with its extreme vitality.“

In view of all these background informations an obvious question arises: is Augmented Reality an indispensable element of her works without these are impossible? „Each of my works tells something in a physical way; the use of a device only reinforces the story, so even without Augmented Reality, my aim is that the content can be appreciated“, she told „However, each physical work is subject to the individual interpretation of the viewer, without the presence of a device. Only my interpretation is omitted.“

Yunuene, who has exhibitied internationally (Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Israel, Italy and the USA), presents her (AR-)works on 56 pages in the paperback ‚Art Party: Augmented Reality Art by Yunuene‘. She lives and works in Mexico City.

Interview January 2023

Augmented Reality & painting: overcoming the limits of the static image


How does intuition present itself to you – in form of a suspicious impression, a spontaneous visualisation or whatever - maybe in dreams?

For me, generally it comes with a spontaneous visualisation, it can happen anywhere anytime. But sometimes I have to look for it, investigate and document it in order to get it.

Will any ideas be written down immediately and archived?

I have them written down immediately, otherwise, I would forget them. I have to write everything down always, from my grocery list to inspirational ideas

Are great ideas based on intuition and do they reveal themselves in a kind of clear as well complete version that just has to be realized? Or is it endless trials and errors (after the first spark) that result in constant developments up until the final result?

Most of the time, they come clear, in almost complete versions, and I am grateful for that.

What if there is a deadline, but no intuition? Does the first fuel the latter maybe?

If there’s a deadline, I have to force myself to investigate the theme until I find the best solution. I don’t like working with deadlines, but sometimes you can’t avoid it.


What inspires you and how do you stimulate this special form of imaginativeness?

I love getting inspiration from everyday things and personal experiences as a woman, daughter, sister, and as a rebellious inhabitant of this place. I also love vintage elements and pop culture.

How do you separate the good from the bad and which ideas are worthwhile to be explored further or whether one idea has the potential of being outstanding really?

I write them all first and then I look for the theme that most inspires me. Still, I can begin to paint an artwork and realise it was a bad idea. Nevertheless, I would continue working on it until I make it work.

Has it to appeal to you primarily or is its commercial potential an essential factor?

Definitely it has to appeal to me first. If it doesn’t inspire me, I simply don't do it. Yet, I try to transform it into something commercial for sustancial living.

Do you revisit old ideas or check what colleagues/competitors are up to at times?

Yes. You can get inspiration from everything and everyone. Or you can know what other artists are doing and avoid doing the same.


Which time/place/environment suits your creative work process the best (tranquillity or pressure) and which path do you take from theory/idea to creation?

I work better when everything is in order and without pressure. But sometimes you can’t avoid short notice work and you must do your best. That's the reason why I only accept commissioned works with themes I love and not because of the money earnings.

What is better in the realization process: speed and force creativity i.e. grasp the magic of the moment, or a slow, ripening process for implementation/elaboration?

Grabbing the magic moment, I am very impatient and I want to see the artwork finished as soon as possible.

If problems occur during creativity or one’s stuck even, how can these be solved?

Taking a day off from that project and continuing with another one until the next day or next week.

How important are self-doubt and criticism (by others) during such a process i.e. is it better to be creative on your own, only trust your own instincts, or in a team? 

Generally, I go on my own, but a sincere and honest opinion is always welcome, mostly from my partner and family.

Should a creative always remain true to him-/herself including taking risks & going against the flow or must one, for reasons of (commercial) survival, make concessions to the demands of the market, the wishes of clients and the audience’s expectations?

I think there’s room for both, you must have personal and commercial projects. One does not exclude the other one, on the contrary, they complement each other as each one offers different challenges and lessons.

How is innovation still possible if one has established a distinctive style and, just in case, is it good to be ahead of one’s time even one hazards not being understood?

In my case, I mix traditional art with technology, so my objective is to be aware of the new technologies, learn them and apply them to my traditional art. Try to get out of your comfort zone!

When does the time come to end the creative process, to be content and set the final result free - or is it work-in-progress with an endless possibility of improvement?

There's always time for improvement, but for me, being a very anxious person, I want to finish it as as possible. I don't care so much about the final outcome, I just enjoy the ride.

In case of failure or - worse - a creativity crisis how do you get out of such a hole?

Cooking and reading until the crisis is over. Give it a few weeks, then force me to keep working.


Should/can one resist the temptation to recycle a ‘formula’ one’s successful with?

It is very important to first define your formula, and then break it. It will be challenging to do it, but eventually one must. Renewing or dying!

Is it desirable to create the ultimate/timeless work, but doesn’t “top of the ladder” bring up the question of “what’s next?” i.e. isn’t such a personal peak “the end”?

If you work always for yourself and without expectations, you will always have something to work on, and if you somehow create a masterpiece you will feel satisfied, turn on the page and continue working. For me, the goal is not to create masterpieces, but to have fun.


For me, my 'Rabbit Magic', musical show, is one of my favourites artworks. It was my first big format canvas and it was a nice challenge for me to paint it. Also, because the theme I painted represented my experiences as a mother. I represent how sometimes it felt like I was raising a child from another animal species. How, somehow, I had to manage things in chaos, in order to make them happen, like using a magic wand. Motherhood can be bizarre, yet funny and colourful. I am very proud of that artwork!

'O. cuniculus. Magic Music Show' on the cover of her book 'ARTPARTY'
My favorite work: 'O. cuniculus. Magic Music Show' on the cover of her book 'ARTPARTY'

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