Gladys Sica
Italo-Argentine contemporary visual artist and poet


Interview to Gladys Sica

"Poetry and art, the same passion, the same fire"

by Luis Raúl Calvo*

Magazine "Generacion abierta" n° 49, Argentine, September 2007.

Luis Raúl Calvo
1. How was your first approach to art world, what did generate this vocation? What was born at first, literature or art?



Gladys Sica.
This vocation grew up in solitude with rituals that started precociously. I don’t know if there was an exact moment when I came into contact or I don’t remember it. What always existed is this companionship, a natural presence of poetry and art in my life, since when I attended the primary school.
When I was twelve I belonged to a group named “Niños y jóvenes escritores” (kids and teenagers writers) that was used to meet in the historical cafés “Tortoni” and “Las Violets”, where I made my first experiences as public reader.
When I was fifteen –after a short and clarifier period through the Trotskyism- I understood,
with the support of a simple practical example, that the change must pass through the knowledge to avoid to be entrapped, with the first attempt, in the same model that it pretends to overcome.
So I joined, afterwards, a group of surrealist poets formed in Roberto Art Park through an announcement published on “Expreso imaginario” (imaginary Express) magazine in 1973.

L. R. C.
2. Did you study art subjects at schools and universities acknowledged by law or in private workshops?


G. S.
After having finished the high school, my Philosophy teacher pushed me to continue her subject studies, my Literature teacher was expecting I chose Letters.
I didn’t study art subjects in the last two years of high school attendance, because in Argentina it was learned in the first years, without history of art and visual basis, a so different syllabus compared with European high school that I had the opportunity to know teaching in the Italian scientific high school.
When I was seventeen I knew Krishnamurti philosophy-psychology during the Sunday open meetings in Rivadavia Park –before police stopped them for “outraging the family, the Church and the State”. There it was attempted to speak spontaneously about illusions, death, fears, and liberty. The first thing that came into my head was the Socrates image walking in Greece among his people.
This was decisive to considerate Philosophy formal studies as an abstract route, merely theoretic and, furthermore, it characterized my life since that moment.
I was always interested in the mind thematic, in hallucinated and symbolic creation. In that period I deeply read the English antipsychiatric David Cooper, Laing and Esterson, but I rejected to study Psychiatry at University when I realized I should have attend the whole Medical Faculty at first.
Letters attracted me but I had the need of something more vital and physical, the touch with the matter, so I decided, almost for exclusion, for the Fine Arts studies with specialization in Sculpture.
No, I never attended private workshops, neither I belonged to trends, I had an eclectic educational background and I tried to move in the world in the most complete way.
I preserved the liberty of my individual experience, even if this brought also going slower and with more tortuous curves.

L. R. C.
3. Which poets did have ascendancy in your poetry?

G. S.
With surrealist group –none was more than eighteen years old, we read the Surrealist Manifesto, we made automatic writing- I knew the French surrealists Andrè Breton, Paul Eluard, Antonin Artaud, the Symbolists etc.
In those years the surrealism in Argentina had an enormous attraction among youth people.
In reality the first poet that had in me a visceral ascendancy was Arthur Rimbaud. I felt so close that always I read him having the fear that his words drove too much into my head and I were not able to distinguish their paternity.
Another great poet fundamental for me was the Argentine Enrique Molina, a perennial traveller, whose poetry was born from the depth. Someone that always was walking at my side and that I should have liked a lot to meet, to speak with him and to embrace him.
Alejandra Pizarnik came to me later, something special: the word vibrates in her poetry beneath a tension that produces silence.
In Italy, without any doubt the obsessive Dino Campana poetry was the most revealing discovery, In Argentina I never knew him: a life ended in a mental hospital, a wild poetry explosion, uncontaminated.
I always understood poetry and art like a way of living, a not blindly acceptance of what is used to do, thinking, making, a consciousness raising.
My poetry train left pregnant of oneiric images, instinctive visions. During the years a more spoil environment became predominant, with a deeper reflective synthesis, a more circular rhythm.

L. R. C.
4. Did any artist influence your pictorial art?

G. S.
The line in art could start from a very long time before, with Michelangelo liberty teachings, the Mannerist and Goya, then Van Gogh, the cubism and the Argentine neo-figurative group.
In Europe the direct meet with that Francis Bacon forms changed under high temperature pressure, was the best thing that could happen to me, followed by Lucian Freud lucid and precise bodies strokes of the brush and Canogar in Spain, another great between formalism and figurative.
In Italy the discover of Afro Basaldella: only colours and some informal trace on the canvass, but that form an unique symphony, pure poetry, perfect battles.
But I believe that in my paintings, nevertheless, the first characteristic raises from the fact that it comes from a sculpture background, sculpture was my first love in art and this can be clearly perceived, is what gives it a greater strength.
I work on the plane with a lot of material, with spatula, with a special tendency for the volume, for the space, almost as if it is a bas-relief or an high-relief.
Also the intagliated carton invented technique, worked on coats, reveals this tendency on my work.
In the last paintings appear lines that cross all the surface and that can be interpreted as interference, simultaneity or fragmentation inside the context.

L. R. C.
5. In which way does the creative process originate inside you? Are there differences when you write a poem or you paint a canvass? Do you think to express better what you want to transfer with one of the two artistic doctrines or do you feel in the same way with both?

G. S.
The creative process born from a depth of vacuum, of silence, of liberty, of spontaneity and community with a greater reality. Those are the characteristics of a meditation or receptivity state, also when it doesn’t happen in a conscious way. Besides, it’s not so important if on the surface of this ocean there is a struggle between colours masses or words that advance as armies in opposite harmonies, in reality all come from that depth. It’s almost as, temporarily, the ego limitation overflows with creation.
In that alchemic space the individual material transforms itself in something greater, that becomes universal and coming from this transmutation the material can, finally, be useful for the others. The others participate completing it, modifying it or aggregating other meanings.
No, there is no difference between writing poetry or painting, drawing or engraving, sculpturing or writing a novel in the way the works born or announce themselves.
Differences and likenesses during creative work come from later, obviously, from technical characteristics that belong to each art, also from the size, the materials, the time dedicated to them.
At first sight it could be said that it can be possible to transmit in another way through the word, that the word hits with a more precise light and, in the same time, it’s more exposed to deviate itself toward mind trap.
But this is due to personal uses and routes, not from the word itself or to the image in itself, the purpose is the same for the poet and for the artist: restoring inaccessible meanings, going beyond each one own limits, incorporating distant or apparently opponents echoes.

L. R. C.
6. Even if you were born in Argentina, in what way did the fact of living in Italy since many years mark you?

G. S.
It’s possible to make conjectures about probable destinies that could happen to me if I continued to live all my life in Argentina or in Italy, there are many possible Gladys Sica but there are not evident proofs about these possibilities.
From this going and going back, crossing oceans, restarting again, it can be understood a fondness for challenges, for not stable situations, for deaths and rebirths as propitiatory conditions for my vital creative state.
I lost many things in this continuous movement, it become more difficult building up in all ambits, there is an evident larger effort in order to avoid dissipating my life.
But, unexpectedly, the final result can enrich itself, because while the time is passing all that belongs to us come back, it’s conquered again or at least it happened in this way since now.
I don’t believe that it’s possible to loose a clear destiny, only that some decisions bring us near or away from ourselves more easily than others.
We can say, in particular, for instance that writing could have surfaced before or more deeply without the complexities due to living in a nation where a different language is spoken or where it must start from zero. Or that it could be another way of writing completely different, as already suggested before the first departed, with pattern and local situations blended with a pure poetic language.
But in the same time it’s sure that painting in Italy allowed me to survive through art, allowed me a maturity in life experience and artistic consciousness that I believe it could be weaker in my native country.

L. R. C.
7. After the book “Ternura Animal” (Animal tenderness) published in Argentina, how was the experience of the book “Nel fuoco del silenzio –il viaggio” (In the fire of silence –the travel) published in Italy winner of “Antonia Pozzi” Contest?

G. S.
I never made haste to publish; surely the fact to be absorbed by artistic activity determined a more slow movement with literature.
Even if my poetic work proceeded with uninterrupted seriousness and, moreover, is former to artistic consciousness, it remained, in the long run, relegated to my private sphere. The fact is that, at least since now, my books were published through contests.
Self promoting trough contests is the most straight way to get in touch with literature world when a person comes from abroad, it allows also to know with certainty how your work is understood when nobody absolutely knows you.
The negative side is for sure the works disorderly publication, following each contest limiting rules.
I took part to a literary contest in Milan, just when I finished with translations. They informed me that I have won the first prize but I have to convert the poetical prose in verses and poems number in titles. I answered that it was impossible to accept those requirements and I lost the prize.
When I come back in Argentina I sent some texts written in the Seventies and in the Eighties, I was one of the finalist in a contest and the first book tardily saw the light in the Nineties completed with poems of that period, as you know well.
During my second travel in Italy I won, on the contrary, the first prize presenting another anthology. This was a great gratification, at first because the book was bilingual, a very important fact. In second place because the prize has a good prestige in Milan, this opened me many doors and this, maybe, as all finally, went in the right moment.
In the meaning that I was in the conditions to have a pause in my artistic activity without many economical risks or continuity gaps.
In these last years literary meetings followed one another in an unexpected and frenetic way. I believe that the best thing of all is always meeting people.

L. R. C.
8. What you can say about art made in Europe in this period? What tendencies are predominating?

G. S.
Together with visual work shown as exhibited object that uses traditionally canvass, stone, acrylic, fibreglass, etc. exist all that artistic forms that in some way come from conceptual art. They go away from art made for to be hanged on the walls or to be allocated on a base, to go close to theatre, philosophy or technology.
In this art ideas are shown or even the very creative process, that is the preliminary drafts, the picture of stages as they are the work itself.
Those are healthy reflection necessities that lay bare what is behind the work, we can say the artist kitchen and that are useful to complete the image liberation of the artist from the artisan. But this is not enough for itself, all depends from each artist veracity and capacity, as always, not from the used style or method.
There are many works that move themselves in the body art, land art and performance courses, following Joseph Beuys, Richard Long or even Duchamp traces.
The element explanatory predominance of right social, artist, ecologic theories of fascinating reference to Jacques Derrida, Jean Baudrillart, very interesting to read, produce, on the contrary, many events whose results are often enough poor o boring to see, where the only one that enjoys himself/herself is the author.
There are also surprising achievements made by groups or single artists that unite many technology to artist sensibility, these languages contamination due to the introduction of the information technology and video use, especially, is making big strides.
The last Venice Biennial Art Exhibition, for example, was full of audiovisuals, but many halls insisted exaggeratedly on this artist expression.
I think that artist can move and think, without renouncing to propose a deep vital energy avoiding to follow established parameters that reduce themselves in a low irony or in the repetition, hidden as subject innovation or as life system critic.

L. R. C.
9. About what subjects do the European poets write? What are the most recurring arguments?

G. S.
The pluralities cohabitation and languages contamination that exist also in poetry is a simultaneous phoneme in almost all the continents.
It could be said that authors poetic like Paul Celan is a general reference, for me was an important discovery.
There is a movement that tend to language reflection, to poetic act, to poetry and thinking relation, the word and the things.
I believe that all this self asking on ourselves going away from the world and from the ego, have left the poetry free from explanatory and communication responsibilities among people.
In Italy, after hermetic poetry, had a lot of importance all that comes from experimental poetry –term that was born before with Pasolini in the “Officina”(Workshop) magazine- with “I nuovissimi” (The newest) and “Il gruppo del ‘63” (The 1963 group).
This group formed by among others Sanguinetti, Porta, Balestrino, comprehended different subjects like art, aesthetic, music. Umberto Eco was one of their critic, about art this group had relation with abstract, informal and conceptual movements.
In the Seventies apart from experimentation with sonorous and visual poetry, it started the upsetting towards daily and politic reality; poetry started to merge more and more with colloquial words, different languages and dialects, technical and scientific terms.
The risk is always the same, that this set free zone remains again suffocated from an only intellectual creation, life and emotions put away from that totality that, theoretically, should attend to recover and live.
In this century, I don’t know if for the internet massive use or for the urgent necessity to show in public the personal sphere, there is together with the multiplicity of poetical forms difficult to define also an overproduction hard to digest. But all this intricate tangle shows an unusual interest for poetry, even if in a chaotic manner, with different quality and without relying on authorities and mass media recognition.

L. R. C.
10. How was born your recent novel idea? Are you actually working on any new project?

G. S.
The idea of writing a narrative text is rather recent in me, in the past it touched on me fleetingly twice, during a convalescence from a sickness, it can be said that the third opportunity was the definitive one.
The creative process was fast and magic, it seemed that all was ready to born, something mature and kept inside me for a long time without I realized about it.
The book “Ritratto di un viaggio” (Portrait of a travel), in reality is a short novel and with a lot of poetic prose. I didn’t want to develop other matters that seemed temptress as the political-social context of that period, or the secondary characters historical-psychological complexities.
I remained inside the main topic that is, behind the protagonist travel, the responsibility that everyone of us has on our own destiny creation, the night of our soul that all pass through in a certain moment and the liberty to choose in the heart of our conscience. It’s a little bit detached vision that allows to see some subtle motivations of things and the destiny synchronic movements that, many times, the tendency to accuse the others with what happens to us or the superficiality and the fear prevented us from perceiving.
Let’s will see what will happen, until now is unpublished.
Actually the idea to incorporate a certain technology in my art is more and more stronger.
It’s not that I accept that art intended in a traditional way is dead or it doesn’t satisfy me, it’s rather the wish to add other instruments with which I pass a lot of time.
Bur for the moment it should premature to speak about because there is nothing concrete, only the construction and the updating of my website.
Painting, photos and texts, can be better complemented with video projections.
What is important is having things to say, how to do them sometimes is revealed during their making, above all it’s important that is intense. It can be discovered that we are able to arrive farther than we believed.
What counts for me in a period characterised by extremism renaissances and confuse priorities is keeping an open confidence and, in the mean time, a careful lucidity.

*Raúl Luis Calvo (1955) Poet, social psychologist and director of Argentine Magazine “Generación abierta”.

Gladys Sica, art exhibition with poems reading,Villa Casati Stampa di Soncino, Milan, 2007

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