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‘All my travels influence my paintings’

‘All my travels influence my paintings’

The Argentine Embassy invited award winning artist, Gonzalo Sojo, to Pakistan to exhibit his work at the Satrang Gallery to celebrate 65 years of bilateral relations between the two countries. Mr Sojo says his works are often inspired by his travels and that he is sure the colours and motifs of the Badshahi Mosque will find their way into his paintings.

Dawn caught up with Mr Sojo in Islamabad to talk about his experiences during his visit to Pakistan.

Q: Is this your first visit to Pakistan?

A: My art pieces were part of a show in Pakistan ten years ago which the embassy organised and in which very senior artists participated. But this is the first time I am visiting and I have loved my time here, even with all this trouble that has been happening here. I have met some fantastic people who have been immensely kind. [The way Pakistan is portrayed in the media] has nothing to do with reality. I like to see things for myself and not just listen to what people are saying. Now I have great friends here and in Lahore and I will like to come back. I only managed to see Lahore, Murree and Islamabad on this eight day trip. Next time I will take extra time to travel and see this country.

Q: Do you travel frequently and how does that affect your work?

A: I used to travel more often but now I have two children, the younger of whom is only two and half and she does not understand my leaving home. My son is nine but he misses my cooking since I am the designated cook in our family. When I travel, the places I see stay in my mind – like in this trip to Lahore I saw the Badshahi Mosque and the colours and motifs are all in my mind. I went to Hast-o-Neest where I saw the traditional miniature art and it left me amazed. I clearly remember the tiny elephant paintings on the walls on the Lahore Fort and all of that influences me and I am certain it will show up in my work. All my trips have an influence on my work but this has been one of the more interesting places – and I have been all over from Machu Picchu and Peru to Europe and North America.

Q: Tell us a little bit about the works you’ve brought to Pakistan.

A: These are pieces from multiple collections but all the paintings have to do with cinema. Even when I do produce an entire collection for one exhibition I try to do heterogenic groups using a varying palette, otherwise I get bored. There are three abstract geometrical pieces which represent the spaces and venues where movies are played. I used to work in a cinema as a translator when I was starting my career. Three of the paintings are based on The Sound of Music, which is iconographic and everyone recognizes those moments. I have also done some pieces on books I read that were later made into movies including Alice in Wonderland. Cinema is a very important part of my childhood, as when I was growing up I used to spend many winter afternoons watching films from the 1950s and 1960s on the two television channels we had. Of course, not all my work is about the cinema but all the pieces in this collection are.

Q: What were you doing in Lahore?

A: I was in Lahore for a workshop at the National College of Arts, the students of which are very talented. The students were second year painting students and the workshop was on the idea of an artist, the main concept which starts when you are a child and you start realising and processing your experiences and environment. What you do after that comes later, but my workshop was about the influences that shapes an artist. I wanted them to realise what their subconscious was bringing out. It was a whole day workshop and the students stayed throughout, without taking any breaks. It was a rewarding experience.

Published in Dawn November 3rd, 2016

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