Considered to be ‘one of Argentina’s stars’ by the prestigious British magazine Aesthetica, Gustavo Ortiz was born in Patagonia and currently lives and works in London. His work is comprised mainly of collages and is often lively in colour, reflecting the influence of indigenous tribes on his work. We welcome you to take a trip to this unique world, the world of Ortiz.
Ventana Latina: When did you decide that you wanted to fully dedicate yourself to art?
Gustavo Ortiz: I began painting roughly around the age of 15 but my fate had been ‘decided’ long before. My parents wanted my siblings and I to learn to play an instrument. My siblings took to it well but for me it was different. After switching from the guitar to the piano then from the piano to the violin, they decided that the best extra-curricular activity for me was an art class. After joining El Instituto de Bellas Artes en General Pico in La Pampa everything developed naturally. I was working for other artists whilst at the same time creating my own opportunities for work.
VL: Did art play a decisive role in your decision to live in London?
GO: When I made the decision to come to London I was living in Santiago de Chile. My life over there was fairly stable, but I felt my development as an artist was beginning to stall. Coming to London was a plan that naturally evolved, it was a decision made with my family and as a couple. Art was 50 percent of the deciding factor. Obviously when one decides to move to another country for whatever reason, one begins to see new opportunities.
VL: What is your creative process?
GO: My process is very manual. I work with paper, collage and paint, but the technique is not what defines me as an artist. I may choose to work with other elements in the future.
VL: What inspires you to create these incredible and colourful characters?
GO: Inspiration can come from anywhere; the myths and the legends of South America’s aboriginal people are rich with characters that relate to my sensibility and my language. Additionally our families can also have their own mythological characters, stories that are passed down verbally that tell of our ancestors.
VL: Out of all of the series that you have created, which one do you prefer?
GO: I really like the self-portraits, as I see them evolving into something more. I’ve always been attracted to artists who have based their career on the development of their own image, such as Frida Kahlo or Cindy Sherman.
VL: How much of ‘Gustavo’ appears in your characters?
GO: I think he is becoming increasingly present. Not only in the self-portraits, but also in the language that has been transformed to the point of talking less about where I come from and more about who I am.
VL: What’s a day in the life of Gustavo Ortiz like?
GO: My life may seem fairly boring for the majority of people, and to top it off my friends have diagnosed me as agoraphobic! I work in my apartment so I don’t need to leave very often. I normally start work at 8 in the morning and work until past midnight. One of the things I haven’t missed from living in La Pampa is the habit of taking a siesta. I use this time to visit more museums and galleries so I can overdose on art!
VL: How do you think living in Europe has influenced your work?
GO: There are so many things to see and experience here that it’s impossible for it not to influence my work and myself on a personal level. It’s not just European culture that has influenced me; immigrants from Asia and Africa have also inspired my work. Some of these influences happen naturally without much explanation; they are so interesting that it’s difficult not to notice them. My use of Victorian wallpaper is an example of this.
VL: Who are your favourite artists?
GO: My favourite artists don’t have much to do with the work I make. Some examples are Paul McCarthy, Joseph Beuys, Richard Tuttle. Some others more related to my aesthetic include Kiki Smith, Cindy Sherman and Henry Darger.
VL: What are your projects and dreams for the future?
GO: My last show was The Hundred Ways That I See Myself at the Pure Evil Gallery in London. I exhibited self-portraits dating from 2009 to the present. At the opening of the show 18 works were sold. In the long term I want to continue working, for my work to continue evolving and for more people to know it.
For more information about Gustavo Ortiz and his work, please contact Belén Pozzo, Art Consultancy at: