For various reasons, Candelaria Palacios‘ work escapes the conventional, inexplicably referring us to the sumi-e inks of oriental art, the exotic romantic gaze of traveling painters and the painstaking workshop work of Flemish Baroque painters. Through drawing, the artist captures her sensory link with the universe and nature. The sophistication of his work is precisely in the simplicity of its lines and textures.
I visited her workshop and asked how she would define herself, what are her preferences and what a working day is like, Candelaria tells:
Candelaria Palacios: I’m mainly a visual artist, and that defines my days a lot. Perhaps “draftsman” is a word that also defines and nurtures me. A large part of my hours and my days are spent in the workshop drawing. I have a large family and my life passes between Chacabuco and Buenos Aires, places that are part of me as a person and as an artist. But my life is an integrated whole, and being an artist is the choice that floods all aspects of my daily life.
Dolores Lamarca: What was the training that marked you on the way in the visual arts?
CP: I am a drawing and painting teacher. I attended the critical workshop of Kenneth Kemble, a rigorous teacher who I think marked me when it came to choosing art as a vocation and profession. Then I went to Lucrecia Orloff’s lithography workshop and there I discovered the nobility of paper as a support and I was fascinated by the contrast of black and white. There, new possibilities were opened to me that were added to what I had been working on painting. Then I began to attend Yuyo Noé’s seminars and I think that stage defined me from a more internal and introspective place as an artist. Yuyo is a person of incredible humanity, who helped me connect with my artistic practice from a new place. Get out of what “has to be done” and go on to work with what I feel and want.
DL: At what point in your career did you feel that you were reaching your style?
CP: I think that my style was armed over time and my way of working was affirming as I left my comfort zones to seek the new and genuine of myself. I do not feel that I have decided or proposed to do things in a certain way, but there came a time when it came out of me, I liked it and I realized that I could not stop doing it. I think that from then on I felt like an artist and there were no concessions, no going back.
I work a lot on black backgrounds and I think this is something that quite defines my imagination. I like to think of the image of a fisherman and his rod with which he probes the dark depths of the water, without knowing what will emerge from the bottom, but with the certainty that something is going to appear. This is what I feel when drawing on black. Sometimes I get scared with what appears, or I think it does not work, or I do not like it, but I go on and on until what comes out.
DL: How is the development of your creative processes?
CP: My way of working is without a sketch, without prior planning. At the moment of facing the white or black paper I feel a great unease. I start with one line and then another and another. I go over the page, I put it on the table and I walk around it, I work from different places, I turn it … and I continue. Once I enter the work and get into the rhythm, I work in a very obsessive way, drawing line by line, like a constant mantra, like a prayer in which there is restlessness and delight at the same time. I work in an abstract way, because I am focused on the line and the plot, in the most micro. Sometimes more precise figures emerge, which have to do with my daily life, forms that were neither thought nor planned, but that find a place on the sheet. In general, I am not sure where this process is going, because it is completely intuitive and very slow. It is impossible for me to rush a job, because I understand what happens on the sheet, I work over time, line by line. The patterns appear, one pattern brings another, I erase, add ink, sometimes color, all in a trial and error process. And there comes a moment, which I feel a bit magical, in which I realize that I finished with that work.
DL: Have they ever told you that your work has a certain reminiscence of oriental art? Is it because of the relationship that your works have with nature or because of the infinite patience with which you work each work?
CP: Yes, more than once they have told me! I always liked oriental art, especially the works of the first anonymous artists who spent hours and hours in the workshop. I especially identify with his patience. And, in the image, for the work in ink on paper and reminiscent of nature.
DL: Your drawings have an apparent sound. Is it because of titles like “Noises of spring” or “Sounds in the night” or because, by incorporating very little color, we sharpen other senses?
CP: Yes, my intuitive way of drawing inevitably connects me with all the senses and I think that this turns on the page. I work in a workshop that is a shed with a tin roof, and there you can hear all the sounds of nature: I listen to dogs, horses, any animal that passes by, the wind, the rain, the plants … I intend to represent them in my works, but my ear perceives them, I already feel them as part of me and they emerge in space, on the page. Both the sound and the silence are elements that challenge me and that are transferred to the work. Also, at home I am surrounded by music lovers, a musician daughter, my husband listens to music constantly… melodies are part of my life, without a doubt.
DL: What were your greatest satisfactions in your professional career?
CP: Each finished project gives great satisfaction, as well as having met many people through art … my group of friends, which was formed from Yuyo Noé’s seminars, makes me very happy and enriched. I am also lucky to be an artist at the Rubbers Gallery, with whom I work in a very fluid way. We made several shows together, in the gallery, and they also provided me with experiences abroad. These situations allow me to take steps in my career. I believe that the great satisfaction in my professional career is the growth and the opportunity to do what I like. Obviously, the samples and recognitions are a motivation and even, sometimes, necessary to continue, but they are ephemeral and then you have to continue working. So I think that the greatest pleasure is in seeing what I can achieve on an artistic and personal level, in seeing myself reflected in my work.