Can you tell me a little bit about you?
Mine is a rather atypical path into art, as a self-taught artist coming in late by quitting my successful career as economist and academic. Born (1972) and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, I currently live and work between Paris and New York. I began to paint intensively on my own at the age of thirteen, and later, excited by mathematics and social frictions, I went to study economics, but always making art on the side. In 2002, I received a Ph.D. in economics from MIT. After having led a double life between art and economic research for several years, at 36 I abandoned my career as university professor and economist to devote myself entirely to art. It has now been ten years that I dedicate my entire life to art.
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
I used to paint quite intensively as a young teenager, an endeavor that I started on my own – I would also make my own outfits and hats. Perhaps because art was so natural to me, at 18 I felt that studying math, not art, was the real deal that would allow me to explore the world and make a contribution. However, I continued to make art throughout. As my responsibilities increased in the domaine of academics, and despite the fascinating world of scientific research that I was in, I started to feel an emptiness and and increasing need to express myself through art making. After working for fourteen years as a researcher, at the age of 36, I gathered enough courage (and savings!), to make the bold move to quit my brilliant career as professor of economics to dedicate fully to art.
What do you like most about working where you do?
I am a newcomer to New York and I am so lucky to share a studio in East Williamsburg (with wonderful painter Heidi Hahn) — a building with dozens of artists and right next to ISCP. Just the other day I went for coffee and ran into the painter Chris Martin – we struck a conversation and he invited to lunch in his studio, where I got to spend a couple of hours looking at his art, his art collection, and meeting a few of his friends. To feel this community around me is just exhilarating. In Paris, where I worked for ten years as an artist, it never felt like there was an artist community, but only punctual encounters.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
For me the experience of painting is one that only makes sense if it is to be transformative. In the least, transformative for the painter as a person in the world, and hopefully transformative of the world itself… Otherwise why spend all those hours alone using up beautiful pigments and light? In a planet already full of trash from our insatiable goods consumption, a painter must be particularly rigorous, else she too risks adding to the pile. Why that stroke and not the other, why that color? No matter how much training or study, at the end of the day a painter must do the most difficult thing: develop an inner compass.
What is your process like?
In this arena, one must put brilliant ideas aside, and mostly surrender to the adventure – no preconception, no planning. Oh, this sounds good but it is actually pretty scary – yet I have decided that this is the only thing that makes it worth it to me – otherwise it feels like I am back doing research, a pretty safe place to be in. And I do not even know if this makes better paintings! Certainly paintings that are charged, but I don’t know if that makes an image. I do know this is what I want to explore: I want the painting to tell me what it wants. It is often frustrating, discouraging, strenuous, slow. It takes patience and desire. If all goes well, it also never ends with experience – one just gets better at clenching the teeth and sticking to it through the mud. I believe this is the only way to self-knowledge and to living life fully. More you do it, more one is able to take the learning in the studio to one’s life in the world.
What is your favorite material to work with, and why?
Color and materiality are key to my work, because it is not only about being capable to lose the light of a painting, even to lose it completely, but importantly, it is about restoring it in some way all the way back up from the ruins. This is where art mirrors life with all its defining uncertainty and possibility. That is also why I like to work with oil paint – the lower layers take too long to dry completely so that when I tackle the painting in the following session, there will be a tense dialogue between the old and the new strokes. This creates a framework for a game that is risky but full of opportunity. It is learning to walk on this tightrope that I am most interested in, the only place where art might be encountered.
What is the last thing you read?
Reading now the writings of Etty Hillesum. Highly recommended! (She might as well be writing about the painting process!)
What are you passionate about?
Painting! But I also need music. And CATS
What is the most surprising response you’ve received about your work from someone?
An older painter I admire very much said that every inch of my paintings is full with emotion and lived experience. To have someone like that respond to my work in such a profound way, where I put all of me, gave me a lot of courage to continue.
How do you spend your time when you’re not making work?
Looking at trees with my cats and reading painting books
How has your work evolved over the last few years?
It has been going deeper and deeper into the unknown -building the courage for that
What do you do when you’re find yourself in a creative rut, or feeling unsure about what direction to go?
I go back to the studio and try to work from ruins – otherwise I lie down with my cats and cry
What does it mean to you to have a “community?”
Community yes!! Though there are limitations to how useful talking about art can be. It is mostly to remember you are not alone.
How significant has attending art school been on your practice?
I only wish I had an art education to have access to a larger artistic community. I think the rest of art school is probably for many counterproductive to producing authentic and deeply satisfying work – let’s face it, we are on our own.
What do you find most daunting, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?
Life is art, art is life. There is no way around it.
How would you define “success” in art?
To do work that reassembles the most ancestral and hidden fibers in you