Vision of art
1. Choose a work that represents you, describe it in relation to its format and materiality, its relation with time and space, its style and theme; detail its production process.
To describe some aspects of the production process in my work, I will choose the last work I have produced.
It is an oil painting (140 x 103 cm) called The Vision of Jennifer Vanessa (La visión de Jennifer Vanessa), the image of a beauty among beauties in an urban landscape.
I think the aspect I am most interested in developing here is about the strange circumstance that will determine the centre of gravity that will define the meaning of my work.
As most psychological schools know, many people are, due to neurotic conditions, not just one person but many persons in one; what happens is that the many people that inhabit within ourselves do not appear all at the same time. In my case, painting tends to shake the diverging tendencies in my personality and that is why the painting sessions tend to turn into convulsed battlefields. For instance, the other day I walked into my studio and prepared everything for work. The first moments are quiet, because the environment is calm and no mistakes have been made. At that moment the brush starts heating up and flows more strongly.
By divine grace, muses come to me and channel the expression of my most intimate feelings. That state does not last much, and suddenly there is an unexpected turn. Suddenly, strange presences shake the place. I start hearing the rumour of voices that debate and contradict each other, as a cacophonic concert that breaks into my harmony.
The ghosts that inhabit in us appear, projected in the most unusual shapes. Thus, although it may sound strange, my studio got invaded by the most varied characters. I will describe some of that day’s appearances: Marta Minujin, Florencia Braga Menéndez, Kevin Power, Jorge Porcel Jr, the famous Carlos Basualdo, almost all my Kuitca fellows (I will not give names not to offend those who did not appear), Guillermo Kuitca, Javier Barilaro, Duilio Pierri, Agustina Picasso, Roberto Jacoby, Charles Saatchi, Vito Campanella (he would not talk but his gaze was terrifying), etc., etc., etc. All these voices talked about the proper or improper in each movement; whether it was tacky or cheesy or too modern or too trash, too obvious, it shows too much, it does not show enough, it does not say anything, it is too fascist, chauvinist, it is so gay, too dramatic, I am not interested, already seen. After this, I am taken by doubt and fear, how should I continue?
But I should not stop. In an act of martial heroism I go against the canvas. The fight is close, and then the ghosts appear again.
Now come my parents, the masters I adore: Michelangelo, Carracci, Corot, Daumier, Fragonard, Piero de la Francesca. Their message is clear: “Oh Nahuel, do not trust your contemporaries, search the truth, Harmony and perfection, the only worthy things in life”.
This last intervention has a terrible result. I am totally paralyzed. Everything seems to go downhill, and it does not seem to go in the right path. But at the highest despair, the seed of victory emerges. Now appears Prior’s uneven voice, and tells me: “Remember Hakuin!!!”. The gates of heaven open up, difficulties ease and I remember the great Taoist painter and his great words: “It is all pure representation, a reflection of the absolute void”. “Anything essential is invisible to the eyes”. (Or it was not Hakuin who said that?).
2. In general terms, how would you suggest to approach your work?
I would like the spectator who looks at my work to subordinate all circumstantial aspects, the whole space/time dialectic that gives context to the work, to a more direct, naive connection, feeling the work as the possibility of crossing a bridge into a mysterious, non-temporal place, a universe of singular ideas and shapes. Most people approach artwork with too many certainties, and that is like putting new wine in old wineskins.
3. In reference to your work and your position in the national and international art fields, what tradition do you recognize yourself in? Who are your contemporary referents? What artists of previous generations are of interest to you?
To determine my coordinates in the complex geography of contemporary art, it would be necessary to draw an imaginary cross. It would be constituted in this way:
West: Gumier, Pombo, Harte, Kacero, Gordín, Laguna, De Zagastizábal, Ballesteros, Hasper, Di Girolamo, Compagnucci, Laren, Londaibere, Siquier, etc., etc., etc., summing up all frivolous painters (art for art’s sake).
East: Schvartz, Pino, Pietra, Pirozzi, Santoro, Alonso, Bedoya, Noé, Páez, Bianchedi, Iglesias Brickles, Carpani and every single committed painter.
The synthesis of all these tendencies is “me”.
4. Choose works or exhibitions from the last ten or fifteen years which in your opinion were very significant and explain why
My first individual exhibition was during 2001 at Beauty and Happiness (Belleza y Felicidad). I was 22 and before that I had not had much of a dialogue with the art world. But from my very young perspective, I would like to highlight that much of what happened in ByF during those times left a significant mark in the predictable local art scene. Of those times, I would like to highlight Agustín Inchausti’s individual exhibition in 2001 and the works (which are not circumscribed to the exhibition format) by Sergio de Loof (one of my teachers). I believe that in both cases the importance of these artists is to work from an individual poetic which attempts to force the mechanized and prejudiced gaze of the “knowledgeable” public.
5. What tendencies or groupings from common elements do you see in argentine art of the last ten or fifteen years?
I perceive two tendencies: Those who bought the book Art at the Turn of the Millennium (Editorial Taschen, 2001) and those who did not.