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Gustavo Lopez Armentia

Retrato del artista by Gustavo        Lopez Armentia

interview transcript

Date of Interview: Feb 10, 2002
Location: USA
Topic: Gustavo Lopez Armentia

LatinArt:  When did you decide on an artistic career?

Gustavo Lopez Armentia:  I started when I was a boy, from childhood. What happened was that I was not aware that this was, or could be, my profession. But I always drew and painted and was very aware of this at all times. I intended to study at a school, the Beaux Arts school, but was not able to do this. In the end, I finished studying on my own account.

LatinArt:  Tell us a little of the history of your painting, your art. What events have influenced your work?

Gustavo Lopez Armentia:  The influences are, in fact, very extensive because there are many things that influence my work, not only other artists. I am a very curious person and in fact, many disciplines of art have interested me. I can say that from the time I began, I have changed as an artist. I have matured and expanded my vision of what art is. I began to explore what I would be interested in doing relating to what I have experienced. This includes the new visual languages and elements that interest me.

LatinArt:  Is there someone, any person in particular who has influenced your life and your work?

Gustavo Lopez Armentia:  Truth to tell it has not been one person, rather many more than one, but for different reasons. Writers, artists... the fact is that I believe art is a very complex thing; not only the plastic arts. I see that I like to have a vision and perceive something far more general and more widespread. That is, I know there is an aesthetic language which exists in the environment of the period, and this is spread by many people. If one speaks of Steven Spielberg, one can say that Spielberg has a vision of the contemporary cinema. If I speak of writers, the same, if I speak of painters, the same. That is, I pay attention to everything that can contribute to me or that I can identify as contributors to growth and to the present time.

LatinArt:  What is the philosophy of your art?

Gustavo Lopez Armentia:  I am very interested in Man's place in the world, but not only that... basically everything I experience at the present time. But this then is a result of History for me because within the work I am very conscious of everything that has happened in the past; that which is retained by memory and also by the subconscious memory. And of course the cultural movements that have existed. I believe that the result of any artistic period is the cumulus of all the information from different cultures. This is what fascinates me. I have always investigated different disciplines within my work such as culture, objects, painting, digital media, video, and facilities. They all seem to me to be languages that come together to be able to transmit sensations that I have for this period.

But basically I like to put together what we have in our memory, especially in the subconscious memory. That is, one perceives things which, well, for me are fundamental. I believe there are basic things in art. Art has a reason; its explanation for being is that it offers us very basic things that we all need, this being a real communication. Language is only a means, and a means we feel. So that is what I want to incorporate into my work and I use language to help me.

LatinArt:  Talk to us about the objects themselves.

Gustavo Lopez Armentia:  In my work, there are varying viewpoints. One can look from far away, but there is also the necessity to look close-up. People often have to come close several times to see the details. I think we have to recover curiosity a little...a stimulus, to involve ourselves emotionally with the work. I also believe there must be a quality of seduction in the color of the image, of the composition and of the work's different readings. I emphasize that everyone has different readings, different things to find in the work.

LatinArt:  Could you talk to us about your use of reoccurring symbols?

Gustavo Lopez Armentia:  Everything has a reason. There are objects, as in the case of the forks and tableware I entered in the Venice Biennial, that due to the size of the object, conveys a very important message and one that is universal. It signifies contact with food and with everyday objects. In another case, such as the very large head, this signifies a person, any person. I believe that each object and each color represents us or gives us a different image, and that is the idea... a different thought.
I wanted to develop my own language, which I believe is worthwhile. I therefore have to find the symbols or signs that can represent what I think. This is also research work that I order for me to find the appropriate symbols.

If I have to work with texts, as I have done lately in my work, I consciously change the names of cities in my work. If I put Latin American and African cities in Europe and those of Europe in Latin America, it is because I am treating the cultural motif at that moment as something basic that is always moving. Despite the fact that this city belongs to a place, many people from other places live there and they become mixed and begin to form a new culture and new information.

LatinArt:  Talk to us about your technique.

Gustavo Lopez Armentia:  The changes I have made over the course of time in regards to manners of working were due to restlessness in finding new options. I have been investigating the subject of computing, of animated computing, virtual space, all of which has interested me very much for ten years now. I have taken part in exhibitions where I have presented installations based on digital art and virtual spaces. I have been changing... well, not changing, but incorporating more things. In fact, I am working with a little of everything simultaneously at different times.
To tell the truth, I have no special process. In fact, I go back to the basic subject of memory. I believe I have ideas or sentiments and suddenly I can begin a drawing because the concept is closer to me at that moment. If I have some kind of sentiment and that sentiment has to have an object, I then need the object in order to develop it.

LatinArt:  Tell me about your paintings. To what do you refer to when you paint about transportation?

Gustavo Lopez Armentia:  The movement of people in the world interests me enormously. There are people who move for business reasons and others who move due to economic needs, but the cultural interchange is definitely the same. That is the point.

I use aircraft or railway tracks or certain objects we all recognize as movement, but symbolically this is what allows me to make this human movement understandable. I believe, moreover, that all the people who move are important. All the social groups who exchange information are important, from whatever social level they may come from. I am an observer of reality. I believe I show something that exists. If I think something is important, I put it in the picture. I am interested in the condition of people - the human condition. But not only the people of Argentina, but how people live now throughout the world. This is important, and for that reason I believe that the artistic languages of the period reflects certain things and not others and the language of this period is very is my work because I want it to address universal things.

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