Inside the Artist’s Studio: Adriana Cantini
In 1983, Adriana Cantini graduated from Mendoza’s Nacional University of Cuyo with a degree in industrial designed. During her third year she began getting her hands dirty in ceramics class, a passion that carried her into her first job: Peña y Lillo ceramics studio.
There she began making, among other things, small figurines of women holding the fruits of a Mendoza harvest. Dressed in traditional garments, these statues became a favorite emblematic gift from the Mendoza province, and business was booming. Looking back on those years, a broad smile spreads across Adriana’s face as she recalls the factory-like production of their small ceramic shop. “The day before my first daughter was born I made seven clay muñecas (dolls) in the morning and seven more that night.”
Formed in the small workshop, every aspect of each doll was molded by hand: every fold of the skirt, the slender arms, the strands of hair, and every hand finger-by-finger. Then, Adriana and the women who worked alongside her shifted modes, and dressed each of the female figurines in hand-painted patterns, flowered skirts, and baskets full of freshly harvested plants.
Adriana spent 27 years working in ceramics, though “If I stop to think about it,” she commented, “all day long I had a paint brush in my hand because I was always painting the dolls.”
Transitioning from ceramics to oil painting to water colors, has been a fluid journey for Adriana, whose passion for her craft has been the unifying theme in her work – regardless of the medium. Her oil paintings draw the viewer’s eye from one corner to the next in a whirl of vibrant color. But in her water colors everything softens, and slows down to the pace of a gentle brush stroke.
The two styles – from oil painting to watercolor –present such opposing aesthetics that it’s hard to imagine how they were born of the same artist’s imagination.
“I don’t like paintings that look like photographs. Why? Because they look like photographs. I want my work to make people think, to cause them to follow a path that I’ve laid, and to arrive at something new.”
Birds and nature have been Adriana’s favorite subject matter, but their faces and forms are only the beginning of her creative process. “I look at a thing and try to penetrate into what I don’t see, to get to the root of the thing. And at the same time I want to leave space for the observer to interpret, so that what I’m painting can reach them in a profound way.”
When asked where she gleams inspiration, Adriana explained that “the artist never stops being inspired. Sometimes I sleep and inspiration is there. It’s in everything: a small piece of a conversation, a doodle I make while talking on the phone, everything and anything. Your mind never rests. And sometimes when you start painting a stain of paint evokes new ideas in your brain, and the painting changes course. An entire painting from a single stain.”
Adriana’s works have traveled far in wide, showing in the US, Spain, Germany, Argentina and beyond.
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