City Paper sat down with artist Marcelo Novo to ask him about his recent trip to Argentina and his plans for this year.
CCP: You recently completed a very successful exhibition at If Art Gallery. What can you tell me about that show?
Marcelo Novo: â€œMarcelo Novo: Buenos Aires/Columbia, SC 1985-1994â€ was an exhibition featuring my older works. This show was designed to highlight the different stages of my art by showing a great range from 1985 through 1994. Overall, the show was very successful and it allowed me to see the development I went through to be where I am. I can see now how certain elements and my style evolved into what my art is today.
CCP: Right after the show at If Art Gallery you traveled home to Argentina to spend a month there. How did the trip influence your work?
Novo: In Argentina I discovered my older works. Probably because the exhibition at If Art Gallery focused on my older works, arriving to Argentina, I started searching for my old works and found many drawings and paintings. This trip took me back to my roots, to face my past. I also brought some pieces back. I looked at my old prints, drawings; I also found a sketchbook full of drawings from these years. I even found watercolors, pen and ink drawings. I cannot believe that these pieces were forgotten. Looking at all these forgotten works, I realized that 1990-1992 probably were my most productive years. During this time in anticipation of my move to the U.S. I worked non-stop. I actually worked more than I remembered. Moving to the U.S. I spent the first years finding out who I was, searching for my new identity in the new country.
The current period of my life is about not forgetting who I was. I feel more complete about my art. Going back to Buenos Aires to see what I did before, digging into the past and finding all those forgotten pieces made me face the past and connect with my roots again. The show at If Art Gallery and my trip made me realize who I was and how I got here.
CCP: Tell me about these new works.
Novo: The environment really affects my art. I become a blender of incoming info. Argentina has these huge trees with many branches. The trees showed up on one of my new drawings titled â€œUnder the Tree.â€ On my drawing the tree trunk together with the branches hide a female body. Another one of my new drawings is influenced by people in suits. The piece is titled â€œThree Cups a Dayâ€ and it shows a man in a suit and tie drinking coffee. Roses grow out of his coffee cup and from the tabletop while he is drinking.
CCP: What are your plans for later this year?
Novo: I will spend two weeks at Wilson College in Pennsylvania as part of the Art Residency Program. I will be making prints. Printmaking used to be my area of concentration but I have not done it since the 80s. But I might also use this opportunity to do some sculptures, drawing, whatever I come up with. It is interesting how starting with my show at If Art Gallery and my trip to Argentina, and now with the new print making residency, I am closing a full circle on my past. Seeing where I came from and what I have accomplished makes me feel complete.
To see Marcelo Novoâ€™s works in Columbia, visit If Art Gallery on Lincoln Street.