kaufmann repetto

Via di Porta Tenaglia, 7, 20121 Milan

Magdalena Suarez
Carla Accardi (Collezione Ramo)

Magdalena Suarez Frimkess answers questions from
Irina Zucca Alessandrelli, curator of the Collezione Ramo

What is your relationship with drawing? Can we consider it as your daily practice? When was your first drawing exhibition?
started drawing at the age of seven. I was in school and the nuns noticed that I was very skilled. So as a girl in Venezuela I started taking drawing classes, mainly still lifes and landscapes. Then I got married and moved to Chile, where I found a good teacher, who came from Yale University. I don't know if you have ever heard of Josef Albers. He was a great teacher for me as well, he also taught color theory. I would say I tried to draw throughout my life when I had the chance, but I also had children to raise. I got married in Chile: I was busy being a mom, I was always trying, however, to dedicate myself to drawing as well. I would say I was born for this. Then I came to the United States on a scholarship and after that my soap opera began: my life there, in Chile, stopped. I came to the United States and got married to Michael [Frimkess], also an artist. I didn't know anything about ceramics before Michael, so the design came first. He would make the pottery and I would draw on it. Drawing is faster, whereas ceramics requires a slow process. That's why sometimes I can develop ideas faster with the pen. That is why I draw: I have an idea and put it down immediately.

Have you ever looked at Italian art of the last century as a source of inspiration for your work?

Well, I know that one of my ancestors was a poet and his name was Portantini. I don't know if there is a connection between poetry and art. My family wondered where my skills came from, there was nobody who was a painter. So they were a little puzzled about it, then they found out that my great-great-grandfather's name was Portantini: he was Italian.

Why did you choose this drawing by Carla Accardi? Did you already know the artist? I chose one but without even thinking twice, by chance. Like I choose subjects to draw every day, casually: without paying too much attention.



Magdalena Suarez Frimkess began drawing in 1936; as early as age 7, the nuns at her school in Caracas recognized her talent. As the artist recalls, "My flowers were more beautiful than those of the other girls, and that's when I began to understand." Almost ninety years later, Suarez Frimkess says how her flowers of today are not so different from the flowers of then and how "drawing" is a process all about observation. For the artist, art is a daily practice: a source of joy and vitality. On the process of Suarez Frimkess's drawing and how it translates into his ceramic works, historian Garth Clark says, "Sometimes funny juxtapositions emerge. He adopts a Hispano-Moorish compositional form on some plates and bowls (also working with a similar color palette), but drawing Mayan motifs and figures. However, there is no intentional irony here or

deliberate forays into opposing cultures. Suarez achieves these interesting admixtures mainly by chance. "I care about the outward appearance of my work, whether the composition works, whether the color is right," the artist comments, "I'm indifferent to what it means." The style is peculiar. Surfaces are drawn in a dense pattern of lines. Yet although the compositions are often crowded, there is great parsimony in his works. A figure, a tree or a patch of flowers is suggested by a few but effective lines. Color is used with freedom and Latin American flair. The most remarkable thing about his work, however, is the ease with which Suarez employs a three-dimensional palette. "*

- Clark Garth, Michael and Magdalena Frimkess: A Retrospective View 1956 -1981, Ceramic Art Notebooks / 1, 1982.