Raquel Sarangello is an Argentine figurative painter.  I met her on social media and was struck by her lovely politeness, not to mention her work www.sarangello.com.ar which is brash and bold with color.  Where does her bright spirit come from?  Read our cool chat and learn more.  Since we don’t speak one another’s language very well, I’ve done my best to edit and interpret her answers correctly.  Despite language issues, we completed this interview in ONE DAY.

MICHAEL: Hello Raquel! I love your work! It's BIG, BOLD and full of color. It has a lot of personality. Does that also describe you as a person?

RAQUEL: My works and I are one.  I cannot let go of color because it’s part of my personality.  I’m risky.  I always like to try new techniques.  I started painting 15 years ago (I am 52) and permanently feel an urge to experience all the time.  I am currently learning to make my work more accessible to the public.  To me, art has to be part of everyday life for people.  My soul is a sponge that absorbs knowledge.  Then I go to my work.  Lately, I’ve been experimenting much with polyester resin and glass in my sculptures.

MICHAEL: Some of your paintings look like Picassos. Do you admire Picasso?

RAQUEL: Yes, Picasso and Munch especially.  My work is influenced by both.

MICHAEL: What led you to start painting 15 years ago? You started later in life.

RAQUEL: My father was a painter and my parents were divorced and had no contact for a long time.  Two years before his death, he came to my house and after that, we had good contact.  My father was not a generous person, never gave me knowledge of art.  He told me he was late.  When he died, I found many answers in art.  Art saved me and I learned to be happy, to forgive.  It made my life much more beautiful.  So now there are no barriers for me.  I know I can do this and more.

MICHAEL: Wow. That's great. You have lots of female figures in your paintings. Is this a statement about women?

RAQUEL: In my house, there are too many men.  I am accompanied and supported by my women.  You really have to understand with my life and in my childhood, it was very hard and women have suffered much.  Luckily, life gave me the talent to paint the lives of many women.  But the female figure is a circumstance.  The important thing is not whether the figures are female or male, but the feelings they convey.  BUT we agree that women are more aesthetically beautiful!  Ha Ha!

MICHAEL: Indeed.  I certainly agree.  Aren't you in Argentina? Buenos Aires? What's life like there for artists?

RAQUEL: I live in Argentina, but this is a very difficult life for artists. Art galleries only work with deceased artists or young artists.  I did not enter any gallery spaces.  Here there is no support.  To show our work depends entirely on our own efforts and our money to send the work to other countries.  I have exhibited in Italy, Spain, Russia, France and now in the United States and never have had the money to travel.  I am part of an international group called “Artists Solidarity” and we donate our work to charity with expenses coming out of my savings. I hear artists from Brazil, Cuba, Chile have the support of the state, but this is not so in Argentina.  Many times, I use my money from the sale of paints and material costs to send my work to various exhibitions.

MICHAEL: Wow. Most American artists don’t have much support either, but you truly have NO support.

RAQUEL: As a visual artist, I have a better appreciation of my work abroad than in my own county.  It’s unfortunate, but it’s a reality. I love my country, but not here exists support for artists. A few receive subsidies with the government of the moment.  I am happy to do my work freely and do not waste time in applying for grants to travel for exposure.  I look forward to just growing and learning every day a little more.

MICHAEL: And yet, there's something about Latin American art that's very special. What do you think Latin American artists like you give to the world?

RAQUEL: No doubt my art is Latin American and I like to be recognized as such.  The artists in Argentina until very recently imitated the U.S. or European art.  That was a shame for Latin American art, but this has now changed. In my experience, an Italian critic said a number of my works resemble Munch and Picasso while others said Van Gogh, but for me, my art is Latin American.  My latest works have been well received in the U.S. and this has not surprised me.  I speak of the lives of people especially in America.  I think that Latin American art has not yet been “discovered” in its immensity by other countries.  Latin American art is barely born and it’s growing very fast.  

MICHAEL: Is there a message in your work?  What do you want people to see and feel in your work?

RAQUEL: I am interested in the dialogue between my work and the observer. There must be communion of souls touch. Although my works are figurative, making it simple for the viewer's observation, it still has many metaphorical messages.  All is not what the eye can see with your eyes. You also look at the works with the soul. If I have left the viewer with a good memory of their experience to see my work I am very happy. I speak from love through my work with sincere speech. I hope that viewers can perceive it that way.

MICHAEL: I certainly do Raquel.  This has been a great pleasure.

For more information about Raquel Sarangello, check out her website at www.sarangello.com.ar.