- Salvatore Polistena's Nostalgic Imagery
- Alejandro Veneziani and Gabriela Lezcano: Working as a Team
- 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"
Salon de Tango
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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)
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)
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
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.
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.