Conversación herzog-kuitca 2006

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Hans-Michael Herzog in conversation with Guillermo Kuitca
Buenos Aires, 25/07/2006

Hans-Michael Herzog: How did it all start in your life with art? Why? When? Was it a slow development or not? Why start painting? Why start drawing? What was your situation like? Guillermo Kuitca: I have to go back to when I was very small. It is rare for me to have memories in which I wasn’t painting. Istarted painting, like many kids, in kindergarten. At that time I painted very colourful paintings with clowns, apparently one of the teachers told my parents that I had a capacity or talent for painting. They accepted that and took me to the free expression workshops which were around in Argentina then — I’m talking about the late 1960s. In a modern Argentina and with some educational intent to givefreedom to the kids, those workshops were places where you went just to paint, without any instructions. I felt at ease and enjoyed painting. Afterwards I started to see shows, to go to museums, especially to the Museo de Bellas Artes. Sometimes I went with my father on Saturday mornings to see galleries in Calle Florida, in those days they were all there, nowadays there aren’t many left, andsometimes I went with my mother to see a show during the week. When I was nine I became restless, as my parents describe it, to find a more rigorous training. That was when they contacted Ahuva Szlimowicz, who was to be my teacher throughout almost the entirety of my training, who was a surrealist artist, trained in the tradition of Batlle Planas, an Argentinean surrealist painter. Ahuva was a greatteacher, probably more limited as a painter, but she was a very curious woman, with a very bright, very keen eye. They put me in her hands. At the time I was very serious about the question of art because at the age of ten I already saw myself as a painter. As time went on, I revised my personal opinion, which is bound to be coloured by the way we think about ourselves, and then I thought that I hadno talent but was a very timid, withdrawn kid, a bit insecure and very lacking in concentration. When I painted, all that was turned into something else. Face to face with a sheet of paper and paints I had a connection that I didn’t manage to achieve with other things, at best my talent was no more than the signal for

them to say: ’Well, this kid needs to concentrate somehow.' Anyhow, inAhuva’s workshop I carried on with my free work, though with a few more instructions, though not many. Generally within the field of abstract art. I didn’t work on any type of representation of anything. In Argentina, or at least in Buenos Aires, at that time people spoke badly about the Schools of Fine Art. That didn’t change. Hans-Michael Herzog: But sometimes they are bad, aren’t they? GuillermoKuitca: Sometimes they are really bad. If you ask yourself why the tradition of workshops in Argentina is so important, why artists end up training in the workshops, it has a lot to do with what people were saying, at least in the 1960s and 1970s, that the School of Fine Art would frustrate a person’s vocation. So luckily, my parents didn’t put pressure on me to go to the School of Fine Arts. I supposethey were a bit worried that I would be left without any academic or formal training, because I never had one. Fortunately Ahuva was very adamant that I should not go to study in the School of Fine Arts, and I didn’t go. Hans-Michael Herzog: It’s often better to stay away. Guillermo Kuitca: So I never crossed the threshold of the school, not even as a visitor. As the matter became more and moreserious, at the age of thirteen I decided — though Ahuva and my parents supported me in this — to put on my first show. So my father and I had many talks with various galleries, but none of them would allow me to hold an exhibition because they were afraid of what might happen to someone as young as I was, and they said that holding an exhibition at that age would be the end of my career. I...
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