Happy weekend! Looks like it will be a little warmer these next couple of days. I’m happy that it will be nice for the Women’s March here in Philly tomorrow!
During this 1st month of the year, I have been busy working on my 2018 daily art project, exploring the theme of music through mixed media paintings on canvas, paper and digital collages. Watch this space for my progress and read more about my project here!! I have been working mostly at home because my studio has been very cold. Hopefully by next week I can get back to it and continue to also work on my encaustic paintings and monotypes.
I have also exhibited three of my encaustic pieces in a juried group exhibition at the 3rd Street Gallery (details here) and, today, published a blog post on a wonderful Argentinean artist and personal family friend, Delesio Antonio Berni (below.)
Returning to my blog series on artists this week, I am excited to share a bit about a man who was a personal friend of my family as well as an influential Argentine figurative artist.
Antonio Berni, born in Argentina and educated in Paris was considered a child painter prodigy. As a teenager, “seventeen of his oil paintings were exhibited at the Salon Mari. On November 4, 1923 [at age 18] his impressionist landscapes were praised by critics in the daily newspapers La Nación and La Prensa.” His talent earned him scholarships to study in Europe where he became simultaneously interested in surrealism and revolutionary politics. “His late 1920s and early 1930s surrealist works include La Torre Eiffel en la Pampa (The Eiffel Tower in Pampa), La siesta y su sueño (The Nap and its Dream), and La muerte acecha en cada esquina (Death Lurks Around Every Corner).”
After returning home in 1931, Berni discovered a struggling Argentina, which ultimately uncovered the limits of surrealism for him as he felt it didn’t fully convey the frustration or hopelessness of the Argentine people. “Instead he began painting realistic images that depicted the struggles and tensions of the Argentine people. His popular Nuevo Realismo paintings include Desocupados (The Unemployed) and Manifestación (Manifestation). Both were based on photographs Berni had gathered to document, as graphically as possible, the “abysmal conditions of his subjects.”
Later in his life, Berni’s work was described as a synthesis of Pop Art and Social Realism, and also included engraving, collage, “several decorative panels, scenographic sketches, illustrations, and collaborations for books.” However, he remained best known for his Nuevo Realism. This style is easily seen in the incredible works of art he gifted to and painted for my family.
Berni was a personal friend of my grandfather, my dad’s dad. And later also became friends with my maternal grandfather. My mom’s dad was an art collector who commissioned Berni to create this incredible painting of my grandmother, mom and aunt.
This painting is huge, approximately 4×6 feet! My aunt is on the left, my grandmother in the middle, and my mom on the right. My mom told me that they had to sit while Berni painted this and it took him many sittings.
Before painting this piece, Berni created a number of drawings and gave my mom this drawing of her as a gift because she connected him with my grandparents who were art collectors.
Another connection between my family of origin and Berni predates the commissioned painting , back to my parent’s wedding. Since Berni was friends with my paternal grandparents, he attended the wedding and gave my parents this beautiful painting for their wedding gift.
To this day, a number of works of Berni’s art hangs on the walls of my mother’s home, including this piece, a part of my grandfather’s collection that was divided up between my mom and her 3 siblings after his passing.
I am grateful for this incredible artist’s contribution to my family’s art collection and for his artistic impact on and representation of Argentinean life and society. To end, I leave you with this quote from an interview with Berni shortly before his death in 1981, “Art is a response to life. To be an artist is to undertake a risky way to live, to adopt one of the greatest forms of liberty, to make no compromise. Painting is a form of love, of transmitting the years in art.”
To read more about Delesio Antonio Berni, check out his Wikipedia page, the primary source of information detailed in this blog post.