NYU Black Renaissance Noire Spring 2015 - Page 87

With “Divine Breath” I spent a little over two years, however, it’s hard to say when a work begins because very frequently the work is already taking place within me at a level I am not even aware of. I think I read somewhere that you are also a poet? If so, what role does poetry (or any other artistic discipline) play in your conception or process of making an artwork? Unfortunately I do not write poetry. There are poets, however, who have accompanied me during the process of some of my work. This is the case of the Argentine poet Roberto Juarroz. I have an anecdote. I was working on the project “Horizontal Stories and Vertical Poems” for a short time when I found a book of poems by Juarroz titled Vertical Poetry. This occurred precisely when the problem of space became concrete for me, leading me to new forms of seeing, together with a deep experience of emptiness. Juarroz’s poems were with me during this process and I decided to incorporate them into my work: stanzas taken from poems, which at the same time created new verses. On a project framed within an important period in the history of Cartagena de Indias. Does the commerce of the art marketplace factor in what you present as an artist and, if so, how do you reconcile that with what you decide to tackle as an artist? I began as a portrait artist 25 years ago. For a long time my experience was marked by the intimate dialogue between the practice of painting and the will to perpetuate the memory of a person beyond his or her physical characteristics and beyond any assignment. I began in this work with the representation of indigents; people who, because of their social condition, are marginalized and invisible in our society. From this experience, and because of the great detail and realism of my work, I received commissions to do family portraits in a large format, which was a great challenge for me. The price of my paintings increased, and I had a great deal of work waiting for me. Nevertheless, in 1995 I called the people who were on my waiting list to tell them that I had stopped painting.  I had lost the passion and I felt that I was repeating myself. In a simple, but drastic manner, I put an end to this stage of my career as a portrait painter. I understood that economic success neither guarantees the justness of the work, nor my fidelity to myself. Later came other difficult moments in which I did not know where my work was going or what to do with all of the energy stored up inside me. I spent time in my studio without doing anything “productive;” I spent hours seated in a corner looking at an empty white wall; I felt vulnerable and sensitive, but at the same time profoundly alive. I learned how to resist loneliness and silence. I learned to listen to myself, in the beginning with great timidity, and later with greater strength. It was then when my proposal “Assemblies,” objects assembled out of wood and dolls, in which I reflect on the fragility of the human being, his obsessions, fears, and illusions, came to me as a great comfort. This grim period of breaking and revision is still alive within me and still directs my steps to this day. I can recognize with greater acumen the direction in which I should orient my work, and I deeply respect the internal cycle needed for the appearance of a work. Today I am working with the Nohra Haime Art Gallery and I feel very comfortable with this. In the world of art there are hundreds of siren calls of all kinds, both in economic terms as well as in terms of recognition; nevertheless, I have put my effort into being attentive to my own melody. n 85 Other disciplines, like dance and theater, have helped me to skew my vision and, in this way bring myself back on track. What are you working on currently? BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE The beginnings are fragile and, because of this vulnerability, they can easily change their course, or penetrate more deeply. Each proposal creates its own rules and rhythms. BRN-SPRING-2015.indb 85 3/29/15 11:42 AM