I was born in Santiago, Chile, in 1956.
I started drawing before I could walk. My early drawings encompassed a wide range of subject matter, including wars, car accidents, jets dropping bombs on burning cities, births, surgeries, world maps, and various catalogs depicting people of different ethnicities dressed in their particular cultural attires.
At around seven years of age, I decided to become a painter but promised myself that I would never open an art book to avoid being influenced by the outside world. However, this idea didn’t last long because the well-known Italian artist, filmmaker, architect, and humanist Vittorio di Girolamo showed up at my parent’s house. After skimming through my drawings, he suggested I be sent to Rome to study animation. Yet, he had one condition; that I be educated first. This was because, after conversing with me for a while, he realized that I had never heard of Michelangelo or his great masterpiece in the Sistine Chapel, which greatly disappointed him. Of course, I didn’t want to miss out on such an opportunity to travel to Rome, so I opened a book and began to familiarize myself with past artists. It was here when I finally met Picasso, Cezanne, Goya, El Greco, Leonardo da Vinci, and all the other greats of the art world. It is also at this moment of my life that I committed my first sin. I went against my principles and broke my promise of never allowing myself to be influenced by others.
Before traveling, though, I had to pass a test. I was shown pictures of paintings from which I had to identify the artists who had painted them. I quickly passed the quiz and was finally on my way to Rome. It was one of the great experiences of my life. I fell so much in love with Italy that I wanted to stay there forever.
I moved with my family to Cali, Colombia. At around age eleven, I started drawing a series of satirical cartoons centered around a character named Pancho. I also wrote a novel titled “Una Piedra También Engaña” (A Stone can also Fool You). I designed a cover for it and made it into a homemade book I later gave my grandmother as a gift. After five years of living in Colombia, we moved back to Chile.
Chile entered an era of political turmoil. A military coup ousted the President. I left Chile for Boston to study painting.
After finishing school, I started to paint with pastels using my fingers as a brush. I was deeply interested in Pre-Hispanic imagery and bringing to light the art of Latin America, which I thought was underestimated at the time. I also met Norman Leigh, the director of Gallery 355, who invited me to exhibit my pastels. Moreover, Norman taught me everything about framing pictures which became very handy because pastels need to be framed. This will be my first individual exhibition.
Eventually, my fingers wore out. First, my fingerprints vanished, and then the skin of the tip of my fingers, and that’s when I decided to leave pastels behind and explore other mediums.
I became increasingly interested in the structures that hold images together. I noticed the many variations of stained-glass patterns on many of the windows of buildings in Boston. I spent time walking the streets observing them, taking notes, and sketching, which I then applied to my paintings. In this series of images, the main figure was held together by geometrical grids drawn underneath the paint.
During this period, I became fascinated with Picasso, especially his engravings. I embarked on a series of ink drawings. I was attracted to the visual effect of engravings and prints. I didn’t have the resources to make engravings, but I made some ink drawings that greatly resembled that look. It was a great find!
I distanced myself from Picasso. I was now fascinated with the idea that flat surfaces could be transformed into volumes and depths through trompe l'oeil, or optic illusion.