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The secrets of an art addict

by Maria Elena Paganini for Huffington Post

When the biography of Peggy Guggenheim, which was written by Anton Hill, came into my hands, I immediately fell in love with her fascinating life, “The Life of an Art Addict”. Now, how many people do we know, people who figure in our day to day life and who love art, almost to the point of addiction? I don’t know if I have been very lucky or not, but a large proportion of the people I know are involved in the world of art, or at least they are in love with it.

My father, Eduardo Lisandro Paganini de la Torre, was the first addict I knew; he was a notary public but his direct connection with art was writing poetry about Greek mythology; he edited various books, without much success, I might add, given the complicated nature of this aspect of art. I remember that he would say, “Maria Elena is always looking for the beauty in every single thing, aesthetics above all”.


During my childhood years I would play surrounded by Sevres porcelain and Baccarat crystal, I would hide from my brother behind enormous Gobelins carpets, and we would spend hours in front of a portrait of my grandmother that had been painted by the brilliant portrait painter Antoni Utrillo. We still have it in the family and we can admire this great lady who would only surround herself with things of beauty.

My uncle Jorge Paganini de la Torre was not only a great painter, sketcher and water colour painter, but everything he touched would become a work of art. I remember, as a small girl, watching how his hands would work on engravings, leaving his fingerprint on everything he touched.

He took his own life at the age of 70 and I can still sense the energy of this Art Addict when I entered his attic for the first time in my life – he would never allow anyone to see his atelier. Wherever you looked, you would find works of different sizes, on different materials, from wood to kitchen paper. I also remember the many paintings that his artist friends had given him, and oil paintings, paint brushes, knives with silver handles that were engraved, photographs that he took of the Argentine countryside and that he himself developed….. Before my very eyes he maintained the disordered mind of the artist. Fascinating.

When my son was still kid, he would just draw on which ever piece of paper he could find. He loved the street artists; I remember spending hours listening to the musicians and watching the artists painting in the streets. Today he is a street artist himself, well respected in the world of street art in New York, Barcelona, Marbella and Argentina. He is no longer just that boy, now he is COLP-ONE.

What happens when you have artists and art lovers in your family? It’s very difficult not to succumb to this energy. Poets, painters, architects and none other than the great violinist Niccolo Paganini, what more can one ask from a family?

Even though I do not believe that there is a genetic predisposition involved in being an artist or an art addict, nor do I believe that one can just learn to be an artist, I believe that art is something that continues to develop, to grow as it is more and more appreciated, it is perseverance in a world where the beauty of art is a supreme value, but most of all it is an obsession! An art addict is an obsessive.

“Art is a poetic luxury”

Without doubt Greek art is a reference for any civilisation, the Greek sculpture figures have the models of beauty which have fascinated the entire world to this very day. This is why I wanted to ask the Greek gallery owner who lives in New York, Irene Vantariki, to give her reflexions about a world that she knows first-hand.

I love art because it’s more of a spiritual experience with a democratic process. Art has no judgement and is never wrong….. You can do anything and be anything freely in art. Involving art in my life improves my thinking in several ways, it enhances my wellbeing. And as Pablo Picasso said “Art is the lie that enables us to realise the truth”.

Artists have a divine gift of giving birth in every work of art and they are channelling their soul in the canvases. For me it is an extraordinary opportunity that many artists connect with me asking me to guide their inspiration and passions. As Matisse said “an artist is an explorer”….so when I’m with my artists I feel like the explorer of the explorers.

My friend the artist, singer and composer Pilar Cerezo has her own concept of what art is about, for her it is “a dimension of human conscience” and when one connects with it, one realises that the “artist” is simply a channel through which this dimension flows, through the artist, to become reality, in a painting or a musical composition or an architectural building.

My reflection about this theme is that there are many reasons to live surrounded by art since, as Oscar Wilde said, “Art is not something one can just take or leave. It is necessary for life.” And I want to live, surrounded by art.


Published in Blog de Maria Elena Paganini |