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Kamarck, Edward (ed.) / Arts in society: the arts and the black revolution

Fox, Hugh
Notes and discussion: an interview with Alberto Davila,   pp. 356-357 PDF (1.4 MB)

Page 356

by Hugh Fox
The interview took place in Davila's
studio on the Jiron Arico in Lima.
Davila is a prosperous-looking forty,
wears sports clothes, is thin, trim, self-
confident. His studio was comfortable,
two rooms, the "studio" proper where he
does his painting and a little anteroom
with a sofa and a few chairs.
I remarked on his affluence.
"Oh, I've done alright," he replies,
"when I exhibited in Miami last year I
sold my entire collection."
I asked him to what he attributed this
kind of popularity.
"I'm safe. I already have a fairly
decent reputation and my style isn't that
far out." He picked up a canvas off
a table in his workroom, held it up to
the thin grey Lima light, "You see,
it's not really OP, almost, but still
identifiable as Cubistic. Now if I moved
all the way over in Op, Pop or -
even further-into psychedelic, I
might be in trouble. After all, it's not
the younger set that's buying my work."
I noticed-in the dark reds, browns,
greens - a touch of the kind of
thing that the "Indiginists" are doing
in Ecuador and Bolivia.
"Any relation to people like Guayasamin
or Gil Imana?"
"Not directly," he answered with
a grin, "but the influence is there. I
really began as a landscape painter.
(He picked up a book off the table:
Pintura Peruana. Opened it) Listen to
what Juan Acha has to say about me here:
'In his first paintings characters taken
from coastal life are stylized and the
landscapes composed of huge
geometrical planes.'
"More or less. It's kind of Abstract
Indigenousness. . . . which essentially
means Cubism combined, synthesized
with pre-Colombian colorations and
general 'flavor,' but now . . . . you know
I teach at the School of Fine Arts, I go
to New York once a year . . . . nowadays
what influence doesn't an artist feel?
I've been everything from abstract
expressionist to op artist-yes, I've
tried it, but haven't stuck with it! -to
abstract constructionist, to an
informalist . . . . you name it, I've
felt its influence. My biggest problem,
I suppose, is not to be engulfed by
everything that I touch, to preserve my
own unity, my own selfhood. That's
the danger, isn't it, of a supersaturation
of 'contacts' and 'communication,'
so that you as an individual artist
become 'drowned.' "
I wasn't familiar with some of the terms
he had used, so I asked him about
"Informalism" and his use of
"Abstract Constructionism."
He picked up another canvas, a canvas
that I would have classified as neo-
Cubist, and explained with a clarity born
of a long teaching experience:
"Informalism means simply without a
form imposed consciously by the painter.
What I tried to do -and this
especially in 1962-3 -was to let the
media itself find its own voice. In my
case anyhow it came out very much
like Cubism, a kind of Action Painting

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