Art is for Life
Life, with hindsight, is like those dreams that are never quite manifest, never quite apprehended, forever just out of reach. A quest you cannot ever fully grasp, let alone complete.
In that sense, Art is just like Life: you never finish a painting. Instead, one day, you just move on. The past does not dictate the future.
At least, that is my approach.
I caught the art bug in Buenos Aires, during my University days. I would draw 6 hours a day at Estimulo de Bellas Artes, an open to all institution with a long history, including the formative years of the great masters of Argentine art like Spilimbergo, Castagnino or Carlos Alonso. For years, I practically lived in the place.
The drawing studio was run by a wonderfully eccentric lady called Hilda Hisas. She considered herself my artistic mother, and she was right. She had won 3rd Prize at the Salon Nacional and we both thought the other was mad, in a good way. With her encouragement, I entered into various competitions and shows, such as the Salon Nacional in Buenos Aires. When I got in, she was as pleased as I was.
Estimulo was brimming with really talented painters, cartoonists and illustrators, past and future: Juan Lascano, Carlos Nine, Eduardo Faradje, Ricardo Ajler, Fernando O'Connor, etc, etc. You learned just by seeing what they did... and what they did wrong.
In later years I attended Juan Doffo's studio, to learn about painting, but my main emphasis was still drawing, drawing, drawing, at Estimulo.
Then life got in the way, but Helen and I have just finished a course in oil painting with Martin Kinnear. We could not recommend it more emphatically:
You can never learn too much.
de Buenos Aires
I had a very conventional education as a privileged British schoolboy... right up to the age of 9.
Thereafter, things went off the rails. By 'things', I mean my mother. I ended up in a village school in the Argentine outback where everyone was called "Torres", which made sense because their fathers were brothers. Everyone had 16 siblings and lived in two room tin shacks.
These extreme contrasts are the driving forces in my life and, by extension, my art. I still crave the open spaces of the Pampas, even though, like Paddington Bear, I now live in darkest England.
I finished secondary schooling at the age of 15, and was expected to work on the family farms. To get away from my mother, I chose to work on a different farm, 80 Kms away from the family homestead. I lived there, alone, between the age of 15 and 19. Well, most of the time. No radio, no TV. Just cows and a cat called Moich. And then Moich died.
At the age of 19, I had never heard of Van Gogh. Then I saw a picture of one of his paintings of cherry blossom in a copy of Reader's Digest, and after that, I only had two dreams: Physics and Art.
"Where do you want to be? What do you want to do?" My mother's questions, repeated ad nauseam, were rhetorical, but I decided to take her literally: "If there is one place I want to be and one thing I want to do, it's not doing nothing here." (She wasn't amused).
So I took myself to the University of Buenos Aires and, much to my mother's shock, passed the entrance exam. I finished all the courses for a Master's degree in Theoretical Physics in the stipulated 5 years, one of 6 out of 400 to do so. Yet I never completed my thesis. Argentina's chronic problems and family got in the way, yet again. But not before my deliverance, a serious case of the drawing bug.
With a mother like mine, you need art. There is no alternative.