Peace, Energy and Beauty
(Online Interview)

Argentine-born painter María de Echevarría discusses her inspirations, achievements and quest for self-knowledge with Everything Art. Her current [2000] exhibition "The Year-Round-Salon" is on view at the Ward Nasse Gallery in New York City.

Name, birthdate and city of residence.
María de Echevarría. I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on September 8, 1944. In 1969 I moved to the United States and I currently live in the N.Y.C. area.

Define your approach to art.
It's the way to fulfill my need to create peace, energy and beauty.

What was your first artistic inspiration?
Some conifer trees that two of my cousins painted. I must have been 10 years old and they were a little older. I admired them for that and I considered myself unable to do the same.

What or who inspires you today? Why?
The inspiration comes from different sources: natural landscapes, the arrangements of lines and colors in commercial ads and photos and the patterns created by the weather in the streets. They inspired me because of their beauty, which is sometimes unusual.
Lately, more and more I feel inspired by the silence inside of me. This silence probably puts me in contact with the creative dynamo that lodges in us. Sometimes, with the silence comes a feeling of being that transcends my own life.

What's your proudest artistic achievement?
A solo exhibit at the United Nations Headquarters in New York in February 1998.

What are your work habits like?
In general, I work better in the morning and during the day than at night. Classical and pop music help the process of creating, but the decisive factor is contact with my inner self.

What's the worst thing anyone ever said about your work?
"I went to see your exhibit, but I like more realistic paintings."

What's the best thing anyone ever said about your work?
After one of my shows I received this e-mail: "Thank you for the beautiful and spiritual paintings I saw yesterday. The subtle colors and shapes! To me, the feminine, gentle, mysterious and sensual essence of the universe are present in your paintings. I was so inspired that I felt like starting to paint right there..."

What is the best advice you were ever given?
Breathe deeply.

Who are your influences?
Because their art moves me so much, they must be Georgia O'Keeffe, Mark Rothko and Van Gogh. Probably I can't escape a non-intentional influence from them.

If you could meet any artist past or present who would you like to meet and what would you talk about?
The abstract expressionist Mark Rothko, and we'd talk about the most intriguing aspect of life: what we can't see with our physical eyes. I think this pervades his greatest paintings.

What bothers you the most about the art/design industry nowadays?
The fact that it's not sensitive enough to some new and not-so-new good artists.

How do you see the art scene in ten years?
I'm optimistic that the Internet will continue to expand the exposure of the arts among the people as well as expand the art market.

Who is the most exciting artist working today? Why?
I have at least three in mind: the Spaniard Santiago Carbonell, the Argentinian Norma Bessouet and the Japanese Shima Yoshida. The three of them convey an unusual beauty and have impeccable technique.

How would your life change if money were no object?
I don't foresee any substantial change.

What's been the biggest challenge you have encountered in your career?
The lack of knowledge about myself. That's why it took me so long to realize my passion for painting.

Do artists have responsibilities? What are yours?
I cannot answer for other artists, but in my case I feel I have to produce my best possible art.

How would you like to be remembered 100 years from now?
If such a thing happens, I'd like to be remembered as an artist that put the viewer in contact with an intangible reality. (issue no. 16, 2000-2002)