Interview with Alicia Besada – Artist from Buenos Aires, Argentina

Alicia Besada-Artist from ArgentinaAlicia Besada is a 44 year old artist living in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She attended art schools at New York, Singapore and Buenos Aires. She has been a painter and sculptor for 25 years. Her main interest is the human figure with the focus on expression.

You can connect with Alicia on Facebook or you can visit her blog to find out more about her and to purchase her artwork.

View Alicia Besada’s portfolio. You can also view her artwork after the interview below.

ExtraImaginary: We have Alicia Besada with us today. Alicia, please tell us a little about yourself and your art.

Alicia Besada: I think I realized I wanted to paint when I was 14 and I won an art contest in my school district. Even though I graduated as a Systems Analyst and worked with computers for about 20 years, after high school I started going to learn drawing and painting. When I moved to New York I entered the Art Students League. Afterwards I lived in Singapore where I attended the Fine Arts School in the University there. Back in Buenos Aires I completed my art theory education at the university and kept going to different art studios, to learn sketching, drawing and painting human figure live with models. Human figure is my main interest. I focus on expression, on emotion, on telling a story about whoever I’m painting and there is always some identification and connection with the subject I choose to portray or paint. I usually paint nude bodies or portraits because I am attracted to skin, that border between a person and everything around. Part of what is inside transpires through the skin, a battleground between what you want to keep for yourself and what comes to the surface anyway. Restraint and pleasure. The body and its language. What could be more interesting!

alicia-besada-couple-in-love-oil-on-canvas-100cmx120cm-2009I am currently working on a project called “A couple in love: getting together and growing apart”. This is how it started. I called two models who are actually a couple, and asked my husband, who is a photographer, to help me take pictures of them. I already had a clear idea of the poses and situations I was interested in, and that was the starting point. Then I asked them to start moving and acting these scenes meanwhile my husband kept taking pictures. The photo session was three hours long, we got more than 600 photos. Then came sketching, painting and finally selecting what to show. It took me over a year to finish this work. Love, not an easy subject. I tried to convey some feelings, emotions and sensations that associated with love such as desire, tenderness, posession, joy, passion but also jelousy, pain, fear, anguish…

I am in the process of finding an art gallery to exhibit this work, I have not posted these latest paintings on Facebook or my blog for the moment.

ExtraImaginary: When did you first realize you were an artist?

Alicia Besada: I think of myself as a painter. I don’t know if there is a particular moment someone becomes an artist. Perhaps that comes when what you do is truly you, it has your own seal, and it is unique. I try to keep learning, improving, going deep into myself and bringing it out.. When I’m painting, when I’m all alone with my work in my studio, that is when I really feel myself. That is the only thing I want to be faithful to.

ExtraImaginary: Is art your main source of income?

Alicia Besada: Yes it is. I sell paintings and sculptures of tango musicians in an art gallery in Buenos Aires. I am also teaching drawing and painting, and my main source of income is selling my work through contacts and my blog.

ExtraImaginary: What medium do you use for your art?

Alicia Besada: Mainly oil. It could be a spatula, brushes, my fingers, but definitely I am most comfortable with oil. At times I work with chalk pastels and oil pastels when I am interested in subtlety or texture. It depends on the subject and my inclination at that particular moment.

ExtraImaginary: Tell us about the process of creating your art.

Alicia Besada: I always worked with photos. When I was younger, I used to look for pictures that called my interest and used them as triggers, as a point of departure from where I drifted away, most times quite far from the original. Later on it happened the other way around, I started taking photographs myself once I knew what I wanted to tell. It turned out far more interesting. After I get the image I want, I think of the composition, I start painting. I give myself freedom to let go. I paint quickly, very energetically letting my intuition prevail over my head. I am very attentive to “mistakes” or things that happen apparently by chance. When I find someting interesting I follow it, most times it happened tob e a good idea. Only after all of that is done, I think of corrections, changes and things to balance.

ExtraImaginary: Do your models pose for you throughout the process?

Alicia Besada: Not every model likes to be photographed. If I am set for a sketch or a drawing, I can do it fairly quickly and I keep the model until I am done. But if what I want to do is a painting, I need photos.

ExtraImaginary: So you take the photographs and use the photographs to do the final paintings?

Alicia Besada: Yes, I don’t paint out of my imagination. I need to see what I want to paint and from there I can get an image quite different from the original. I might need long hours to get a work done and I also need to be in the right mood, when I paint I do not want to have a time limit. I prefer to keep the picture and work with it whenever I want.

ExtraImaginary: Who are your favorite artists?

Alicia Besada: My favorite is Van Gogh. Other artists I like are Cezzane, Matisse, Schiele, Modigliani, Sorolla and the German Expressionists.

ExtraImaginary: What are the German Expressionists?

Alicia Besada: There was a group of artists in Germany that founded “Die Brücke” or The Bridge at the beginning of 20th century. Among them Kirchner, Heckel, Schmidt Rottluff, Mueller and Nolde. It is probably obvious from my paintings that I am quite influenced by expressionism.

ExtraImaginary: What are your goals with respect to your art?

Alicia Besada: My goals… I don’t think I have a goal or a place I want to reach. Once I started putting my stuff on Facebook, I realized that it gives me a lot of satisfaction that people that I do not know like what I do, have access to it. My next step is to open the door and show more what I do. I was too much into myself for some time, working in my studio. I did have individual exhibits in 2006 and 2007 and I did the scenograpgy of a tango show in a prestigious theatre here in Buenos Aires. Last year I joined a group of artists called Grupo Boedo and we do show what we do once a month in different cultural centres. And now that I put much of my energies and effort into this latest work, I want to show it. I want people to see what I do.

ExtraImaginary: Do you get creative blocks and how do you overcome it?

Alicia Besada: I do sometimes. It happens when I am going through changes, and when I am in the middle of it and I am not sure of what I am trying to incorporate, I get uncertain. I get stuck, the past is comfortable but I have already done it, and the change is growing in me but I have not fully grasped it. Those times I go to safe ground: I draw. I get away from color and just draw. It is easier for me, relaxing. Later on, it all comes back to me.

ExtraImaginary: How is the state of art in Argentina?

Alicia Besada: Well, the Argentinian market is complicated, perhaps just like in like other places. Galleries normally want to charge you a rental for a place to show, or they charge huge commissions. If you are not well-known you need to be connected, basically someone in the art circle has to give you a hand.

Plus the painting I do is not “in fashion” here now, and the trend is clearly towards interesting textures, non-traditional materials, ingenious designs. I do not want to generalize, but much of these is lacking emotion and content. I go for something else. I do what I have to do, if it gets popular, a lot better.

ExtraImaginary: What do you want people to understand from your art?

Alicia Besada: I want them to be moved. Really that’s most important to me. I want it to make people wonder, to try to figure the story behind, to feel touched, to find a connection between my paintings and themselves.

ExtraImaginary: Thanks Alicia. You are ExtraImaginary.

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  • Wonderful insight

  • Inspirational thoughts and works…. helping to discover within myself…thank you DEAR FRIENDS…keep this spirit alive…ahem ahem ::))

  • Felicitaciones Alicia! una gran pintora!