Hi, Guillermo here, an artist from Argentina living in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
I dedicate myself to different branches of art such as painting, ceramics, music, dance, mask performances and poetry.
I open this profile because many people have been interested in my travel stories and asked me to write about them. I also see it as an opportunity to organise my own memories.
I intend to regularly post pictures of my art and write stories that are related to them.
Let’s start with the “La Verite Devant le Monde”…
I made this painting seven years ago in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in a squat called Rog, a huge complex of old and rather worn down buildings which used to be a bike factory in the Yugoslavian time. We arrived there with my girlfriend of that time. It was full winter and we had no appropriate shoes, no cloths or savings. After a couple of days, wandering around there, I found some big blocks of paraffin, some old white sheets, some plastic containers, brushes and… the parquet from the already destroyed floor, which I was anyway throwing into the stove in order to heat us in the big room we were in.
I bought some batik colours and got down to work!
After two weeks of intense work and quite some smoke intoxication in our freezing cold temporary home, a whole series of batik paintings came to the light...
(picture coming soon)
I thought afterwards, that diving into such a creative process might have been my strategy to overcome the hardship of that part of the travel: to arrive in an unknown city covered in snow, without money or proper food and with no other means to survive than selling little drawings on the streets, relying on the kind hosting of the people from the squat which had no running water, no electricity or toilets… I myself didn’t have any understanding of the English language! And everything was anyway going on in Slovene!
We would eat tuna cans and bread and sometimes the cheapest chocolate biscuits. I remember that when my girlfriend suggested that five euros per day for food was reasonable, I thought she was totally crazy, comparing with what I was used to from Argentina.
In Ljubljana, despite the challenges and the cold, I was amazed by the beauty of the snow and the kindness of the people. Ljubljana stroke me as an architectural symphony, the river as a calm and powerful presence and the company of my friend was every day my compass and fire. I remember also intense feelings about being in a completely unknown country under conditions that seemed surrealistic and having all to discover, all to try.
When I decided to join my friend for a trip to Europe I didn’t know it would have no return, and as I was used to traveling for 13 years already at the time we met in Chile, I didn’t foresee that the cultural shock would create such great repercussions in both my soul and person.
The original plan was to just visit her sister in France and then go walking into Asia! Such was the boat that I without a second thought had jumped in, but once on this side of the Atlantic I realised that I had no back up of any kind and that the self-assurance that I was so proud to have achieved after years of moving around, seemed to be worthless in a context where I didn’t dominate the language or the expected social protocol, and with economic resources equal to zero in extreme weather conditions without equipment. On top of all that I had a thick layer of prejudices towards this continent as a consequence of being a mixed descendent of natives from South America and Europeans who happen to read lots of history.
The painting is a portrait of a Druid, epical wise men of Celtic traditions, overpowered by Rome and supposedly extinguished although nowadays some individuals here and there claim to keep still within their schools some of that lost ancient knowledge.
In my first weeks in Europe me, my girlfriend and her sister were riding bikes and visiting Palaeolithic sites in Bretagne in France, and we met and interviewed nine druids. Since I understand no French at all, I didn’t get much out of those incredible dialogues, and had no other choice than to content myself by painting portraits of those to me very interesting people.
“La Verite Devant Le Monde” is a phrase that one of the Druids mentioned to us, I think in a blossoming garden or maybe at an abundant table full of crepes and delicacies of that region, that they were eager to offer us since we were young people cycling the end of the autumn.
The trip to meet the Druids is a long story, subject of a future post I guess…
Batik is a painting technique that comes from India and Oceania, it is done traditionally on silk canvas and you basically “paint” with hot melted wax and then dye the fabric into some colour for textiles.
After several layers that can go from 3 or 4 till 20 or more (depending on your patience and style of painting) the picture is under a thick layer of wax and you iron it with lots of paper in order to get the wax out. Then, and only then, you can see the final picture!
Few months later I made the frame of the painting in another cultural place called Mizzart where they would have sewing machines available for anybody to go and work while listening to techno trans music the whole day. Mizzart was one of the secret corners of Metelkova, a space in Ljubljana with many pubs, clubs and artist’s workshops that used to be a squat as well back in the days.
The frame is a patchwork of different batik textiles and white waxes fabrics. The rectangular holes that you can see in the painting are part of another project (‘artistic money’) that I will share with you another time, and the texts were written with the sewing machine as well. The painting size is about 1.5 x 1.5 meters.
The photos were taken in Bled, a lake in the north of Slovenia. In the picture you can see a curious swan, the castle and the little church in the distance placed on a little island in the middle of the lake.
There are so many more memories associated with this painting! I will have to create a second post for them all!
See you soon!