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by Kathleen Menéndez

Pyrography News From Around the World

Newsletter No. 20, Page Two of Three


Page One:
- Salvatore Polistena's Nostalgic Imagery

Page Two:
- Alejandro Veneziani and Gabriela Lezcano: Working as a Team

Page Three:
- Wonderland Puzzle
- Special Recognition for José Pelegrina in Puerto Rico
- Abby Levine and the Big Bend Area of Texas
- George Anderson's Art Education Project
- Abdulwahab Mihoub Exhibits in Algeria
- David Wickenden Completes Portrait of the Prime Minister
- Tayseer Barakat's Ziryab Café
- Sue Walters On the Go!
- Dino Muradian's "Adoration of the Shepherds"

Alejandro Veneziani and Gabriela Lezcano:
Working as a Team

Salon de Tango
by Gabriela Lezcano

Pyrography and acrylic color on leather

Image courtesy of the artists

Introducing Alejandro and Gabriela

For about 25 years now, Argentine artists Alejandro Veneziani and Gabriela Lezcano have been a team. For the last 20 years, the couple has been residing in Villa Gesell, a seaside resort town that attracts a lot of tourists. It is about 400 km from the country's capital of Buenos Aires, where both are from originally.

During that time, they have exhibited their works in some sixteen individual shows and almost as many group ones. Most of the shows were in Argentina, two more recent ones were in faraway Mexico, and one in very faraway Russia.

Birds of Villa Gesell
by Gabriela Lezcano

Pyrography and acrylic color on leather, 80 cm by 70 cm

Image courtesy of the artists

A Career Together

In Villa Gesell, they had always had a rented space where they exhibited their paintings; however, this year, motivated by cost factors and encouraging clients, they decided to open their own studio, which has them very enthused. The place they found is lovely, completely surrounded by trees, and because it's elevated, it appears to float on top of the trees.

Alejandro tells the story of how it all started: "When I was 16 or 17 years old, my mother used to go to a teaching studio that offered all sorts of craft techniques: metal engraving, papier maché, woodcarving, batik, and also pyrography on leather and wood. Because my mother had her own workshop with all of the materials, I tried all the techniques. And when I got to the pyrography on leather, I could not tear myself away--I'd found the one for me! I began by doing little things like bracelets and hair ornaments that I gave to girls at school, and timidly tried copying a Mayan motif or others' designs--it was a weekend hobby."

The Impeding Machine
by Gabriela Lezcano

Pyrography and acrylic color on leather, 77 cm by 68 cm

Image courtesy of the artists

Alejandro continues, "At age 19 I met Gabriela who was 17, and after we'd spent some time together, I told her about my hobby. She liked to draw, and it occurred to us to produce craft articles in leather--wallets of all sorts, passport cases, coin purses, etc. We began selling them in shops with incredible success, and as a result we always made good money (which never lasted for long in our hands!!) in addition to which I was working in a family business that dealt in auto parts."

The years went by and when I was 25, we got married. Four months later, the family business failed, and I went to work for another company doing similar work. However, only a few months had passed when I decided to make a lifestyle change. We sold everything and moved to Villa Gesell, at that time a small town of some 8000 inhabitants that was almost deserted in the wintertime. But that was what provided the opportunity for the expansion and development of our technique.

After a few years here our things were selling readily, and after that followed exhibitions and official recognition. All of this came about directly as a result of our practical efforts in the workshop--we are practically self-taught.

Beyond the Border
by Alejandro Veneziani

Pyrography and acrylic color on leather

Image courtesy of the artists

Technical Aspects

The couple's process (the overall process and specifically the pyrographic process) is complex: It basically consists of pyrography, wax, and acrylic paint over leather, which is cowhide that is naturally tanned but not dyed. In the initial phase, the technique consists of engraving by means of heat (i.e., pyroengraving) to outline the design and also utilizing waxes to facilitate the burning and produce distinct textures.

They use acrylic paint to produce transparent colors, background washes, solid tones, and deep contrasts. In addition to that, they also burn the paint thereby creating still another texture.

This group of techniques combining burning and painting is as yet unpublished; it was originally handed down to Gabriela and Alejandro through family and further developed by them over 20 uninterrupted years of work and research.

Expanding Their Business

by Gabriela Lezcano and Alejandro Veneziani

Pyrography and acrylic color on leather, ready to hang with ribbons

Detail of First Communion Remembrance (right)
"Jesus Bread of Life"

Images courtesy of the artists

A Second Project

About a business that they started only recently, Alejandro explains, "Before moving to Villa Gesell, Gabriela had worked for four years in a craft workshop of religious articles for an order of Carmelite nuns, where she learned many things that we are finally now starting to put to use."

Nowadays the couple is directing family and neighborhood workshops that--based on their technique and oriented towards the production of craft works--offer an income opportunity for persons in need of it.

The pieces are charming in style, outlined and often with calligraphy in pyrography. The smaller pieces are appropriate for remembrances to give to the guests at a religious celebration, such as a Christening, a First Communion, or a Confirmation. Other pieces, some of which are larger, are meant to be given as gifts on similar occasions.

They are all done on leather and where appropriate some are then mounted on wood backings.

Guardian Angel, plaque and detail
(above and above right)

Holy Spirit plaque (right)

by Gabriela Lezcano and Alejandro Veneziani

Pyrography and acrylic color on leather

Images courtesy of the artists

It is in Villa Gesell where Gabriela and Alejandro have their art gallery and sell their pyro paintings on leather. However, back in Buenos Aires they now have their decorative-art religious pieces exhibited in various businesses--including the most important one at the Cathedral of Buenos Aires and two others with a pair of Catholic religious orders that have their own publishing houses--all dedicated to selling religious articles.

They travel to Buenos Aires regularly to visit their clients, deliver more merchandise, and collect, and are continually developing new things in conjunction with their clients.

Missing Persons
by Alejandro Veneziani

Pyrography and acrylic color on leather

Image courtesy of the artists

How The Couple Works Together

Alejandro explains that generally for their new business Gabriela does the drawing, he does the painting, and they both do the pyroengraving. In the case of the paintings, however, each one does his or her own.

He says, "Gabriela has been getting away from the naive style and doing very interesting things, touching on surrealism. I am always comfortable with abstract; my preference is for painting not drawing, and my intention, which I tell you in all humility I sometimes achieve, is to establish a communication with the person who is observing the work, across the silence. With the combination of colors and forms, I try to reach that part of a person where communication is at a level that is incomprehensible at the level of reason but shared at the subconscious level. I have several clients who are psychologists and psychiatrists."

Paraje Central (Central Stop)
by Alejandro Veneziani

Pyrography and acrylic color on leather, 103 cm by 90 cm

Image courtesy of the artists

A Third Project

Alejandro and Gabriela dream of one day living in Mexico where they first had the idea of setting up a workshop to teach a trade, based on their own, that offers self employment. "This trade can really provide a living, and there are lots of people in need of it," writes Alejandro, "In any place in the world where you might be, a trade can work for you."

The plan was to go this year, but their attempts at going through a Mexican entity were unsuccessful. CECATI showed interest in their proposal but were currently without funds to allocate for it. Furthermore, the work of actually applying would have to be done there in Mexico.

For their part, the couple feels they could not come up with enough money of their own, especially because of the recent devaluation in Argentina, to make such a major move for the time being, but are seriously considering going there on their own, setting up a workshop of religious articles, and placing their paintings in some gallery or other. At any rate, if an opportunity presents itself, since their decision is already made, they intend to head for Mexico.

Los Parientes (The Relatives)
by Gabriela Lezcano

Pyrography and acrylic color on leather, 70 cm by 60 cm

Image courtesy of the artists

A New Website and Other References

Gabriela Lezcano and Alejandro Veneziani's main website displaying their paintings is www.angelfire.com/ar/incue/index.html (under "Galeria de Arte"). Their project proposal is also posted at this site (see "Proyectos Culturales").

Linked here is their new Religious Articles website.

The couple's salon in the E-Museum of Pyrographic Art has been on display for some time showing works mainly typical of life in the area of Villa Gisell, particularly the indigenous customs they came to observe there. The salon is now updated to show some additional works that are more recent.

Closing Thoughts

The couple's art work has enormous appeal. It is deep, charming, colorful, and creative.

Teamwork is what Gabriela and Alejandro are all about. They both had that artistic "spark!" Their ability to "fan the flame" by working together and together look at every obstacle as a new opportunity to succeed has allowed them to forge a successful and meaningful career . . . and a life for themselves.

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2002, Kathleen M. Garvey Menéndez, all rights reserved.