Maria Cabeza discovers two Argentinean painters who are well worth your while
After having been writing for more than thirty years I am, fortunately, still captivated by some artists pieces of work and their insight human nature.
This was the case when I was asked to write an article about these two awesome Argentine painters. Not only they are great, nationwide-known artists but also I had the chance to share cherishing moments with them and their families and this is a privilege few people have) and I discovered such amazing people that is was then when I reconfirm that good artists reflect their souls on each one of their coats either on a canvas or on a wall.
Both of them were born in Argentina, Sergio Santini in Buenos Aires (Villa Fox, Zarate) and Leon Blanco in Roque Saenz Pena, Chaco. The former was delighted with Chaco province, where he lives since 2001. He says “I fell in love immediately with this province, it reminds me of my hometown”.
They are friends. Leon Blanco plays with text on his art and Sergio Santini adds value to his own pieces of art by writing poetic captions he picks from his poet and friend Mr. Daniel Martinez.
Mr. Santini always wanted to paint but he could not get loose and begin painting ,till one day he saw a wall by Milo Lockett in Chaco. He was with his wife and he spitted: “ This is what I want to do”. His wife just replied: “Do it”. She unconsciously knew her husband was keen on the arts and capable of painting. She just did not want to push him. It is said: “The teacher appears when the pupil is ready”.
Mr. Santini admires Picasso, Miro, Tarcila do Amaral, Diego Rivera and Paez Vilaro.
His father was a panel beater and his mother a housewife. Born in a house full of car spare parts and the tenderness of his mom, he was encouraged to paint but was never obliged to go to a school to learn. He is an autodidact.
Music and poetry are what inspire him the most. He listens to Astor Piazzolla (Pipi Piazzolla, his son, is a world-known jazz player-)and, meanwhile, the sound of music makes his hand slide on the canvas and colours and shapes that were concealed start to pop up.
Maria Cabeza: Would you like to be famous?
Sergio Santini: No, I would like to be known due to my art, which is a more solid state than just fame. One can become famous by hiring someone who can give you a piece of advice regarding a marketing strategy and that, for real, has nothing to do with my paintings. (Mr. Santini does not make a living on his art yet; he works for a dairy product company. He is the main support of his family and happily married).
MC: What is a perfect day for you?
SS: My favourite day is Sunday: I get up early to paint, I have some “mate” with my wife land we listen to music. After that we have a nice barbecue with friends and in the evening as the icing on the cake, it is cool to watch my football team (Boca) win.
MC: What was the first thing you painted?
SS: It was a couple dancing Tango. It came to my mind spontaneously . Now that I think it over it was like a sign of what was coming afterwards. At present most of my paintings are related to Tango and Poetry.
MC: Tell me about your thoughts when you paint…
SS: I just think about the stuff I will use to paint and I simply let myself be transported by my feelings . I definitively paint what moves me.. I can paint at any moment. I am not a structure-based painter with set scheduled times.
(Mr. Santini loves reading poetry, short stories and essays. He admits he has no patience to read novels. He is actually a straight forward individual who inspires real love towards what he does and one has this feeling of being in front of a kind and trustful man. He has no qualms when he has to say something like: “I don t collaborate with any NGO.”)
MC: What is art in your opinion?
SS: Art constantly makes a better world, can you imagine a world without musicians, painters or poets? How much sadness we will have inside our souls! The Arts is re-birthing all the time, each piece of art tells us that not everything is lost, there is still hope. In my opinion, art should be promoted in the most vulnerable places, I have no doubts about that. If I had time I would do that myself. “One more painter, is one less marginal person”
MC: So you are saying that when someone is aware that he is an artist he is no longer marginal?
MC: How do you get along with critics?
SS: Honestly, I am not pendant on them. It is not that I am ego centered or arrogant but it is as simple as this: I do what I like within my limitations so why should I worry? If people like it ,great! If they do not, bad luck.
If he had to choose a movie he said it would be The Godfather, the whole saga. A book: ‘Patas arriba, la Historia del Mundo al Reves” by Eduardo Galeano. He watches little TV; some political programmes and football. Cultural channels too.
MC: What are your future plans?
SS: To dedicate my entire life to painting.
Mr. Sergio Santini, a painter who believes in learning through stimulus and by all odds, in freedom. He is not keen on doctrine methods neither in the academic style. A man of his word. A self-confident individual and an outstanding, thriving painter. Chapeau!
In 1996 when he was twenty he worked as a waiter at the Plaza Hotel – a very posh and prestigious one in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He lived on his own in a pension. Mr. Blanco had never thought of painting at that time. He was completely absolved by the Culinary Arts and working to make ends meet.
His father was a Folklore singer, a gaucho minister at popular parties. His mother wrote poetry. “They saw the seed of art in me” he says proudly. I am doing with my little daughter Violeta: Sowing the seeds of the arts. She is four years old and she cannot help singing all day long, she also paints and dances all around the house. She is my inspiration and I always want to be with her. I think she is the reason why my art always has a message of hope involved; I believe in love above any other feeling and in the family and friendship.
He still keeps his first painting: a cloth that conveys mixed feelings of love , sadness and freedom. It is twenty years old. “Freedom has fire and calmness as well”, he exclaims.
After living in Buenos Aires for ten years he returned to his hometown, Chaco. His family persuaded him to show his paintings to the people and so he organized his first exhibition in Saenz Pena, the city in which he was born.
Mr Blanco’s wife, Cecilia is also an artist. She restores old pieces of furniture or recycles them. Sometimes husband and wife work together.
He paints at a warehouse which he calls “Plan B” Cuisine and Art Warehouse where he paints, his wife recycles furniture and they have a little restaurant too!
I can tell that “ Plan B” is a way of living. It is their way of connecting inside the family and among the world. I can smell art and passion at every corner of the place. It is a cozy, intimate though hard-working place. The only company is the sound of silence and creativity. I am relaxed, it feels good, and it makes me complete his works of art by myself.
Maria Cabeza: How did you start painting?
Leon Blanco: One day I just bought some acrylics, brushes and began playing with them, like drawing on some pieces of cartload and ,since then, I have never stopped painting. My heart is filled with joy and passion when I create my pieces of art.
MC: How would you describe your relationship with art?
LB: I have been harvesting a lot of friends these last years: they belong to different locations where I exhibited my paintings like Salta, Jujuy, Tucuman, Corrientes and Buenos Aires. People always welcome me with their arms wide open and I am very respectful and thankful towards them.
MC: Do you work for any foundation?
LB: I work with children in rural schools, hospitals and public dining rooms for children. I also teach to kids with special needs, always trying to give the best of me. Moreover I learn from the latter more than they do from me and they nourish me with the freedom they have at the moment they start painting. These young men made me grow as an artist, each time I must face some kind of hurdle I think of them , I leave the adult world aside so fear vanishes into thin air and I paint what my hearts dictates tells me to.
MC: What inspires you?
LB: Music and the movies. I don’t watch TV. I am not a reader either but I do visit museums every time I have the chance to travel.
MC: Can you describe a perfect day in your life?
LB: Sure, it is that simple (he laughs). I get up and my family is with me, altogether at home, all healthy: my wife, my daughter, my dog Panchito and my friends. And when I say they are healthy I mean in body and soul.
Mr. Blanco assures me that he does not pay attention to critics because their opinions can vary; he knows it depends on the lenses of the people who “judge” the painting so he only takes into account the comments he may get regarding his culinary art. “Art is like food, you might like it or not. “It doesn’t matter what kind of coat of paint you give, if the feeling is profound and your soul is transparent….it is worth the while,” he exclaims.
I know that I have met two incredible artists and amazing individuals. I am full of joy for having the chance of meeting them both.
And I’ve nothing more to add. Sergio Santini and Leon Blanco have said it all.