Now Featuring Mara Caffarone
Mara Caffarone is an Buenos Aires based artist. Though based in a very direct connection to the colors and shapes of the real world, Caffarone’s paintings also invoke a sense of timelessness, a playful connection to early Modernity and the influence of the simplest gestures of daubing paint or cutting paper. Caffarone talked with us about her work, shared studio images and was very, very patient with LPP’s beginner level Spanish.
MH: Where do you live and make work? Where are you from?
MC: I live and work in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where I was born and raised. Although I moved several times, I now live in the neighborhood of Floresta.
MH: What media do you use to make your drawings? At first glance some of your recent work looks like a Matisse cut-paper collage, but I see you have pictures that look looser, like watercolor, too.
MC: The technique I currently use is acrylic on paper. At this moment I feel comfortable with both the media and material. Although I could other full color techniques, like cutting paper, I like the diversity of qualities of acrylic that allow me to paint, and that at times I can work with transparencies.
MH: I noticed a big change in your work, from figurative drawings with text to the new works we’re featuring that focus on shape and color, and feel very related to painting. What prompted this evolution?
MC: Although formally there’s a big difference in my current aesthetics in relation to what I’ve done in previous years, the process of change was very gradual. I worked about a year on the process that allowed me to generate the kind of work I am doing now. I think it was a kind of settling, rather than change itself.
Also, my interests are changing and usually mixed up with the information and context around me. A great influence on my current work was the reading of texts on Eastern art and philosophy that helped me focus ideas that had been brewing in me and that somehow also directed me to toward this kind of reading.
My work was always focused on ideas, especially about life and philosophy, and though I made a shift in approach, the common thread is the same.
Today, at first glance my works seem to be based on something merely formal and chromatic, but what interests me most when I work on them is the relationship of these elements to the formless and empty, with all that that implies both visually, as an idea.
MH: Who are some of your artistic inspirations? Some big famous ones? Some artists in your community who inspire and challenge you?
MC: Many artists are a great source of inspiration to me, almost everyone, even if they are not a direct influence on my work. Some great artists that have captivated me since childhood are Klimt (and his textures), the application of color of Matisse (since I was a girl I have loved the Fauves), Degas’ dancers, the death of Ophelia by Millais (one of my favorite paintings), Toulouse Lautrec, Warhol, and Berni Minujin.
Some young Argentine artists that I find very interesting are Diego Bianchi, Andrés Aizicovich, Guido Yanitto, Diego Gravinese, Nicanor Araoz, Paula Drive, Luciana Rondolini, to name a few that come to mind now. But really there are many artists who are currently doing amazing things.
MH: Where do you derive your sense of color? Tell me about your relationship with it.
MC: Colors are fundamental to me. I look at the colors of everything I choose, watch or buy. Colors influence me as much as music, in everything I do. I suppose my sense of color is why they influence me so much. If I look around my house right now, I can find each of the colors in the palette to use in my work.
I am very interested in the contrasts between shades, which can make very differently colored shapes relation to each other, or in other cases pass almost unnoticed in the play of figures and background. I’m also really interested in generating combinations of colors that vibrate visually.
MH: Can you give me examples of some of your favorite places to discover new color influences? The market, the ocean, hardware stores, gardens?
MC: I love the colors of plants. I have many on my balcony and patio. It is amazing how the colors of flowers vibrate. It is almost impossible to capture. They are too perfect. I love vintage colors… the way many fashion magazines from the ‘50s and ‘60s look. It is difficult to list the all places, the colors are everywhere!
MH: Do you make sculpture or other work in addition to painting?
MC: I do some installations and works with fabric. It’s interesting and important to try things with different materials, or think about other things including projects outside painting. At the moment my work is painted, but tomorrow it could be something else and that would be great. I like the changes and variations between formats and materials. I think one of the greatest freedoms in art is that materials are only a means of expression, and it’s good to choose whatever material is best for each project. I do not think art must have a uniform identity.
I have also organized projects at an art gallery called Gallery Bonjour, linked my point of view certain ideas and places of art.
MH: What do you like to do in Buenos Aires when you’re not in your studio?
MC: I love walking through the chic neighborhoods, especially on summer evenings, when all is quiet, or people are napping. You can hear the birds, or small noises that you forget because they are generally drowned out by the sound of cars.
I love going to the cinema to see a nice movie, or visiting the home of one of my best friends and staying for hours talking and drinking maté. I guess like everyone else, I like going out with friends for a drink, or seeing new work at small galleries.