thoughts on art
When I stand in front of a piece of stone or wood, its constitution - shape, consistency, colour - enables me to visualise a subject that is there to be revealed. I don’t make the material fit an idea but allow the idea to emerge from the material.
The journey of sculptor for me means revealing that which is already there without losing the integrity of the material. Direct carving is to me the most direct way to reveal ideas. Manual direct carving allows me to slow down this process of revealing to free me to express an idea. I am not copying an idea already created to be transferred to the stone or wood but allowing a subject to be what the process allows it to be. Thus, the representation speaks more directly to people without interpreters.
For me, human representation binds us all, since it reflects our mortal journey, gives us a sense of belonging in relation to our cosmos, and connects us to the struggles and celebrations of life. It is a direct way of reflecting on our mortality and that which lies beyond, therefore providing continuity between our past, present and future.
I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1968. Already in my early years, between 1972 and 1975, I took drawing lessons with my mother in the garden of a country house in Parque Leloir in the outskirts of Buenos Aires, where family friends, artists, musicians and writers used to gather. With my first savings I bought an easel in 1975 and was inspired to draw the portraits of Beethoven, Chopin and Schubert from a book of composers that I found in our home library which had engravings next to the biographies. I then took formal lessons with artist Cristina Vallazza, a family friend.
In 1982, when I was in high school, the Instituto Libre de Segunda Enseñanza, and learning
Egyptian history, I was moved by the Egyptian Seated Scribe and embarked on my own first sculptures with the clay I bought from Leidi, an art shop near the school.
I was subsequently influenced by the Easter Island statues, as well as Donatello’s and Michelangelo’s work. In 1983, I took lessons and worked as an assistant to Antonio Pujía on the inauguration coin of President Alfonsín of Argentina.
Then, in 1984, I joined Aurelio Macchi’s studio. Aurelio Macchi was a disciple of Ossip Zadkine in Paris, France, and studied stone carving with José Ramon Castejón (who carved “La Deesa” for Josep Clará, Plaza Cataluña, Barcelona, Spain). In 1985 I studied painting with Alberto Demonte, a disciple of Torres Garcia. In 1987 I continued my art studies Florence and then returned to Argentina to start architecture at the University of Buenos Aires to further my education. During this period, I produced a number of bronze sculptures commissioned between 1985 and 1990 (Fundición Buchhass).
While studying architecture, I set up a practice (1990) designing and building my first architectural projects until I completed my degree in architecture in 1992. I subsequently moved to Milan, Italy, in 1993 to continue my studies in architecture. There, I met and discussed ideas with Tomás Maldonado. Cesar Pelli also invited me to work on the Banco República of Argentina due to commence that year. I continued to run my own practice of architecture for nine years carrying out a variety of commercial and residential projects.
In 2001 I lost my parents in an accident. A few months later, other tragic events hit Argentina and the world. By the end of 2001 I decided to pursue a space for reflection and grief.
In 2002 I moved to the UK to pursue a Master of Philosophy degree in Architecture at the University of Cambridge under Peter Carl and Dalibor Vesely, a disciple of Hans-Georg Gadamer. I completed my dissertation on “Synthesis of cultures and syncretism in the Jesuit missions in Argentina”.
After requalifying as a British architect at the University of Cambridge, I set up Cavaleri Partnership, which continues today.
In relation to art, I continue exploring ideas in wood and stone, sculpting through direct carving, as well as engaging in clay modelling and drawings.
My mother was an artist who introduced me to the art of observing and conveying our emotions and values through representation, once I was old enough to sit on a folding stool. I remember sitting by her side in the garden of Parque Leloir, Buenos Aires, in front of an easel looking out into nature and the world around us. Beyond that, the rest for me has been technical training, and further developing the ability to observe the world around us.
My mother was born in Tucumán to an ill mother and an absent father, but grew up with the love of “tía Rubia”, sister of her mother, and “abuelito José”, her grandfather, who had been an illegitimate child and became a self-made man. Early in her life she learned to live with loss and fend for herself. She studied art in the Instituto Superior de Artes, Universidad de Tucumán, under the instruction of Lino Spilimbergo and Lajos Szalay, and then continued her studies in Buenos Aires. She saw in her life a way of bringing joy and hope to others through art. She taught art in schools in the slums of Buenos Aires to children in an extreme situation of need, but she inspired them to learn in the hope of a better future.
Through her eyes, we see that art is not only a reflection of life, but also a vehicle by which to connect to others with an active purpose. It is a way of binding us all in our journey through life. Therefore I invite you to support the Cavaleri Foundation www.cavalerifoundation.com which provides opportunities to people in need to develop their purpose and skills, thereby continuing my mother’s legacy through donations, leasing and acquisitions.
©2023 by Mariano Cavaleri