Thursday, January 27, 2011

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Hot, Fabulous, Latin American Talent: Flavia Da Rin

Flavia Da Rin is a 32 year old artist from Buenos Aires, whose work I first experienced at Art Basel Miami Beach this past month. Flavia’s pieces were pointed out to me by the extraordinary art curator (and my childhood friend) Valentina Tintori. I was so impressed that I had to buy one of her pieces immediately, passed up having it shipped, and literally carried it under my arm, looking like a fugitive clearing the turnstile of the Miami Beach Convention Center. I have spread the word to all my clients about Flavia, and reached out for an interview as well. It turns out that this girl is one of the sweetest, smartest and most down to earth artists I have ever talked to. I loved her humility and her focus, and after our interview, I spent time revisiting all the images of her art and looking at them with even much more respect than before.

Gorgeous Flavia

I love your work; it’s unique and special. You are consistent in the message that you want to convey. As an only child, you have centered your work on your self-portraits and you have surrounded yourself by fantastic characters created out of your own portraits, your imaginary friends…. Each series is obviously inspired by the circumstances that are happening in your life in a determined moment as well as your feelings and emotions. Why did you call one of your shows “The Mystery of the Dead Child”? What was the reason behind the series and what was happening in your life back then?

Thank you for your kind words! That exhibit was in 2008 and I started envisioning and creating it in 2007. I was so interested in watching the dynamics of the art shows and the opening cocktails, the whole social setting, the ritual of people greeting and hugging each other, the conversations among the participants and all the interactions that have a code which although not written its present and the participants abide by it. Curiously, during that same time, I also went to several funerals and saw a link between both scenarios: the art show opening and the memorial service.

Both are places where people get together to celebrate something, either the end of something that has a potential to be, the ceasing of something that is in constant transformation and it has turned into something else that is stale and static: in one case is a life and in the other is the creative process that precedes the art show. There is not only all the small talk and the shallow conversations that occur in both places but also people are talking either about an inanimate person or an inanimate object…

It was through this idea that I started developing the series. Then two parallel stories showed up: the boy who dies is also represented by the artwork that is displayed in art shows. So when the boy dies, in one side of the story, all his family is in his funeral, but on the other side of the story, the same people become art collectors; the fairies who receive the boy in heaven are also his muses and so on… I was also about to turn 30 at that time and I wanted to get rid of the label of “young artist”, hence the idea of the child who dies like the young artist dies and moves on to a different phase.

 From "The Mystery of Dead Child" series

From "The Mystery of Dead Child" series

I was fascinated by the works that I saw in Art Basel Miami Beach this past month. They are colorful, playful and remind me of a circus. What’s the name of the series and what was the inspiration for it?

It’s funny that you mention it but this is a series that I have privately decided to call “Carnival” and I’m actually still developing other pieces from the same series. It was inspired by the expressionist artist James Ensor and the Muppets!

From the most recent "Carnival" series and that in which Flavia continues to work on.

Tell me more about the shows and your collaboration at Fondation Cartier. I’m sure it was so exciting to see your artwork posted in every corner of Paris, one of the most beautiful cities in the world!

“J'en rêve” was the name of the collective show that took place at the Fondation Cartier. After a year of scouting, a group of very established artists such as Nan Goldin, Takashi Murakami and Guillermo Kuitca selected a group of 40 young artists and then that group was also further reduced by the head curators of the foundation. I was lucky that not only they selected some of my works but also that one of my photographs was chosen by Fondation Cartier to be the image of the show. It was then when I got the great opportunity to show my work at an international level. Then, in 2007, I was invited to participate on the launch of the website “Love” by Cartier. Seven artists, including myself, worked under the same premise: How far would you go for love? I wrote a short love story and produced an accompanying sequence of photographs that illustrated it.

 The left side is showing Flavia's work and it's the cover of Fondation Cartier J'en rêve exhibition catalog.

Flavia's photography used in connection with the launch of the "Love" website by Cartier

Hermés also invited you to participate in a show in Singapore. The curatorship was unbelievable! It really looked like an enchanted forest. It’s precisely all the fantasy that surrounds your work what leaves me curious and eager to know more, to see more!

Yes, for that Hermés art show we worked along with Korean curator Emi Eu and Hermés’s wonderful team in charge of windows and display.

Originally, the show was going to open in parallel with the Singapore Biennial in 2008. The theme was "Wonder", and we wanted to work with this idea of fairy tales, folk stories that may seem to be for children but they have a not so innocent subtext. Hermes not only gave me a lots of freedom to work with an amazing team and put together a great show in their exhibition space but they also gave me the chance to work on their windows!

The curatorship of "Wonder" with Flavia's self-portraits at Maison Hermes, Singapore

Who are your most important influences? I understand that working with Kuitca was a wonderful experience but I see so much of Cindy Sherman in your work…

Several years ago I won a very prestigious scholarship called the "Kuitca scholarship"; this is a very unique Project in Buenos Aires, where Guillermo (Kuitca) offers workshops, clinics and critiques to 25 artists every two or three years.

That was one of the most enriching experiences of my life. I was sharing a lot of my day-to-day with a group of artists and I saw them develop and grow. Not to mention the wonderful exchanges and conversations with Guillermo. He is an amazing artist and an exquisite conversationalist with a very refined eye and a sensibility for the work of others that I have rarely found on anybody else. From then on, Kuitca and I became really good friends. He is a mentor, someone I love and respect. Guillermo’s work and words go always with me.

Regarding Sherman, I think it’s mandatory to talk about her for any woman who does self-portraits in this day and age. However, our works are truly different. We both start from a fictitious scenario, Cindy is more interested in capturing stereotypes while I’m more interested in storytelling; I want to create a narrative and characters that may not have anything to do with reality, who don’t belong to any specific space or time.

Flavia as a boy

I can imagine that being married now and a new mom has inspired you enormously. In some of your works you have included your dad and your husband’s portrait. Will we see you as a mom or will we see your baby in future works? Coming from an artist with your sensibility, all these emotions will have to be exposed in your next body of work.

Of course! These are very dramatic changes! This is all revolutionary stuff! However, I still don’t know how the changes will be reflected. I don’t think my baby girl will be in any of my works. It’s too much exhibitionism for somebody who came to the world being so vulnerable.

I have been trying to separate myself a little bit from the autobiography and somehow have been trying to getting closer to fiction. It doesn’t matter that all my works start with my own portrait. In the long run this is just another tool in my repertoire. In that sense, my work seems more like that of an artist who’s telling somebody else’s story. In fact, I never see myself in my art; I always see the others that I create. I’m the actress, stylist, camera director, screenplayer and special effects commander of my photographs!


I love this duality of dark and fair

What’s coming up? What are your hopes, dreams and aspirations?

Right now, I’m participating in the VIP Art Fair http://vipartfair.com/ with a focused exhibit of eight pieces brought by my gallery in Argentina, Ruth Benzacar. This is very exciting, it’s all online and I’m looking forward to see how it goes! I will really be exclusively dedicated to taking care of my newborn baby, and then I have to go back to work.

Regarding my aspirations, I’m not someone who’s very ambitious. Ever since I was very young, my career always moved in the right direction and things happened very naturally for me even before I could dream about them. More than dreaming or wishful thinking, I’m very used to working very hard and then see where that gets me. In fact, my aspiration would be to maintain my enthusiasm with respect to my work and to participate in exciting projects.

Recently, I was able to work for Hermes again doing the windows of their Buenos Aires boutique under the curatorship of Ana Torrejón, a collaboration with Mateo Amaral, who added one of his video art installations and the participation of Inés Acevedo, a young writer. I learned a lot and I would love to continue doing these types of projects and collaborate with talented people who work in different disciplines. I don’t want to sound corny, but it’s actually true: to be able to make a living out of what I do and to have the family that I have is a dream come true.

Flavia's window for Hermes in Buenos Aires

There’s very little I can add to the depth, purity and honesty of Flavia’s answers. I dare you not to be in love with her after you see her works (and read her interview)!