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The Spiritual

Sebastián Picker, Gallup, 1996
The Spiritual

After moving into a tiny, magical house on the top of a hill and setting up my studio, I started to read the Bible. It was the first time that I had ever read it. Not because I suddenly became religious but because I wanted to find new subject matter for my next paintings. I thought that most of the universal human emotions, such as greed, envy, lust, compassion, and so on, could be found in that book. 





Some years earlier, I had been living in the south end of Boston, in the Piano Factory, an industrial building that had been remodeled into a place exclusively for artists. I was surrounded by painters, sculptors, actors, and musicians. Five blocks away was my studio, a huge warehouse surrounded by drug dealers, car thieves, robbers, and prostitutes. The day I moved into the studio, to be on good terms with the trouble-making neighbors, I hosted a party with an ample supply of beer barrels and invited them all in to see my paintings. Besides being a very entertaining evening, the party had an immensely gratifying result. They all became my friends and, as a consequence, my steadfast and loyal protectors. From then on, I always felt safe walking to my studio. It is there where I painted my series of paintings, “Spiritual Souls.”

1995 Spiritual Souls





After spending twenty-two years in Boston and having had more than twenty-six exhibitions, I moved to Gallup, a small town in the Southwest, not far from the Capital of the Navajo, Hopi, Ute, and Zuni nations. I immediately felt at home there. The many eucalyptus trees and arid landscapes reminded me of Chile. There was no buzz, no fashions, no trends, and not a single place where you could get a cappuccino coffee, which delighted me. One of the first people I met when I arrived was a Czech photographer named Milan Sklenar. He had been living there for some time and introduced me to some of the indigenous tribe members in the area. In his jeep, we traveled long distances to small villages where the residents invited us to sit on the rooftops of their adobe dwellings to watch the sacred rain dance ceremonies below. Some of these rituals lasted for days without interruption. The monotonous dance, accompanied by the constant beat of drums, never ceased to mesmerize me. It all took place in isolated areas or regions that tourists had never heard of or visited, or if they had, weren’t allowed in. Milan was highly respected and trusted by the local indigenous peoples and was the only white man allowed to enter their territory. Being his friend, I was automatically welcomed by the priests of the various tribes. These experiences had a deep influence on my art. They taught me to be perseverant and to have faith in my dreams and visions. 

1995 Belief in One's Dreams




The Southwest skies were breathtaking, and the mountains majestic. I thought that if God lived somewhere, it would be there, in New Mexico. There was a spirituality in the air that permeated everything. It drew me to look far beyond the immediate horizons while at the same time delve deep inside myself. After a profound introspection, I finally thought I understood what my art was all about, leading me to write a manifesto titled Old-Child Art.

1996 Old-Child Manifesto





After writing the manifesto, I traveled to Boston for an exhibition of my latest work, Old Child Visions. Given that I would only stay there for a short time, I got myself some art supplies and painted a series of quick paintings. I covered the canvases with very thick Gesso to build a heavily textured underpainting that I then washed over with highly diluted oil paint. I was looking for the spontaneity and fluidity of watercolors. The paintings had an earthy feeling, perhaps to express my fondness for New Mexico.  

1997 Earth Figures