Talent born in the Province of Mendoza
Source: Cuisine & Vins Magazine
By: Cristina Goto
With his abstract art, he invites to a celebration of the colors of the Province of Mendoza and with his tribute to the wine and his native province, he takes his work to Algodon Wine Estates, in San Rafael.
“My life is a simple life, dedicated to work, to the family and I’m happy with what I have…I always want a little bit more. I enjoy very much what I have, which is quite a lot.” ALBERTO THORMANN.
Alberto Thormann is an artist through and through. He was born in Mendoza in 1959 and is a lively and inquiring person. He graduated from the School of Arts of the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo. During his vast career, he obtained more than 20 awards as engraver, draftsman and painter. Since 1984 he has participated in group and individual exhibitions all around the world. Furthermore, Thormann captured different activities related to his job as an artist and worked in numerous exhibitions in wineries of his native province. He created murals together with his wife, Alejandra Civit, a ceramic sculptress, and became a columnist of art and decoration magazines. Apart from this, he published his book of paintings On dreams and seas. He is a regular teacher of the Drawing in Design class of the Champagnat University, and in an open competition was elected to design the light boxes of the Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia [Wine Harvest National Day] 2004. The curious thing is that those boxes had a surface of 1800m2 and had 5 thousand color lights. On two opportunities, he acted as jury in Provincial and National Exhibitions and gave seminars and workshops in Mendoza, Córdoba and Chaco. His works of art were exhibited and formed part of private and state-owned collections in Chile, Canada, Taiwan, Mexico, Spain, England and United States of America. Nowadays, he lives in Mendoza. His work, colorful or in black and white only, is formed of lines, plans and transparencies, thought-provoking spaces and shapes that enable the spectator to see his own universe beyond the abstraction. There are no prior sketches or drawings. It all starts from a spot, lines and the shine generated on the canvas. His paintings are oil paintings or canvas and drawings, mixed techniques with charcoal, pastel chalk and acrylic in white and black over the canvas. There is always special interest in the details and the aesthetic balance. His theme is free, but in general, there is a connection between the sky and the earth, the mountain and the sea, dreamlike constructions, the mark of man and his God.
How old were you when you decided to paint?
I have always drawn, but I discovered it when I had to start university. My friend Félix Benegas told me: “what other thing will you study if you spend your whole time drawing?” And it was true. When I was 11, I won my first mural competition in the Chamber of Commerce of Maipú, Mendoza. This made me realize that I had good conditions for art. At University, I studied drawing and graduated as engraver, but I liked colors very much. I mixed engraving and painting. On one occasion, I traveled to Chile for an exhibition and realized that I wanted to paint. The next time, I put a painting exhibition and it was quite a success, I sold almost every piece. Then, I started to work on pieces that had a drawing as a base, and painted it with ochre and blue colors. Today, I’m doing something different.
How would you define your style?
It is abstract with a touch of surrealism. I have no previous drawings. I work directly on the canvas which provides the shapes and colors that people associate with reality, with fantasy. And perhaps this doesn’t make it very abstract, the fact that you can see that behind a spot there is such thing. It is like looking at the clouds. My painting is abstract, but I feel the need to capture icons of the Province of Mendoza such as the wine, the mountains, the sun, the snow, which appear frequently in my work. I’m honored that my work can be found in different parts of the world, many times made in situ. I’m trying to get a little bit closer to Buenos Aires because I have to show my work in my country.
Tell us about the idea you had in mind when you worked for the cover.
It came up as a painting dedicated to Mendoza, a tribute to the wine and food of this province. I thought it could have some white touches to represent the mountains, some lilac, to represent the sky at dusk, some green, to represent the vineyards. This is how the idea was born. I would include it in my wine series. I leave abstraction a little bit aside and can include these touches, with a clearer and more naturalistic imagery. There is abstraction, certain imagery, depending on the eye of the beholder.
Have you exhibited your work abroad?
Yes. Some galleries of Sao Paulo and Spain have required my paintings; I received a request for an exhibition from England; I showed my work on two occasions at the Instituto Nacional de Providencia in Chile. Today, I’m working for the foreign market but settled in Mendoza. I’m OK here. I don’t want my profession to place me on a whirl that I could find hard to manage. In 2004, we published a book for Latin America which was distributed to different companies in the region.
How do you relate your job with your family life?
I’m just a worker. My sons, Agustín and Facundo, who are 19 and 14 respectively, understand that my job is to paint. They are happy and proud when somebody asks them if they are my sons. My wife, Alejandra, is a ceramist and artist too. We work together and share the art studio. Art is something habitual at home. And, fortunately, it has provided us with many satisfactions. Art is something that we live and share. My sons devote their time to their studies. There has never been any pressure or suggestion that they should dedicate to art. They are building their own story. The older one is going to study Theology in Buenos Aires, so, he has some spiritual inclination too. My painting wouldn’t be the same if I didn’t have the love of my wife and sons. I deeply believe in the value of family, the people you love, friends and in sowing good things; one receives what one gives. I deeply believe in God.
What does Mendoza mean to you?
I love the place where I live in. Mendoza is a life project, its people, its land and its fruit are a blessing which nurtures me every day.
And what does teaching mean to you?
Teaching is part of my vocation. Working with young people is wonderful, I’m happy to do it and I put my entire devotion into it. I teach Drawing I and II at the School of Design of Champagnat University. My job consists of having students see the shapes and spaces.
Do you practice any sports?
I play tennis in the Club Alemán of Mendoza. I like sports and enjoy them with my sons and friends, so as soon as I came to Algodon I looked for the tennis courts.
Do you devote part of your time to gastronomy?
We love it, and I’m using the plural because I share this pleasure with my wife; we go out or cook at home. We invite our friends over and have a good time with them. We also take wine seminars together. I like to use the barbecue, either with coal or wood. We cook many vegetables with the barbecue and that, the meat and fish are my job. Alejandra prepares the sauces, the salads. Lunch is that special time of the day which we share with our children, we talk and make plans. It really is the best time of the day.
How was the wine introduced into your life?
Apart from graduating from the School of Art at the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, I’m a technical oenologist. I did high school at Miguel Amado Pouget School and graduated with a very complete oenologist orientation: we had vineyards and obtained winery experience. Many young people that today are important professionals and who later specialized on this subject at University, studied at that same place. Then, in order to receive some continuing education, I took wine-tasting seminars at the Instituto Nacional de Vitivinicultura, INV [National Viticulture Institute]. Wine gives me pleasure.
Have flavors progressed?
Completely. During my days as a student, what mattered was the quantity not the quality. In those times, Raúl de la Mota came with Weinert winery to show us the possibilities of a wine. He told us that one could work differently, choose the vineyard in another way. It was great for us. I thought that this change was marvelous. Besides, Weinert was a winery with the finest technology. I saw the change when new wineries appeared, when foreigners came and settled here to produce wine. Something happened then that made this whole matter more interesting. Suddenly, Mendoza was seen in the world and had a product of excellence to show. I was born in this land and things of this sort make me feel proud and happy.
And how did your palate progress?
I like Malbec but I’m captivated by blends and their complexity, the flavor of wood and the color the wine gets with ageing. Some of them are: the blends of Familia Zuccardi, Catena Zapata, Escorihuela Gascón, Finca La Celia, Blend de Familia Ponce Torres, Doña Paula and Mendel. I’m also friends with some of them too and we share the respect for our work: José Alberto and his family, Roberto de la Mota and his family and César Ponce and his family. I love sparkling wine too: Navarro Correas Nature, Nieto Senetiner Nature, Baron B, among others. All the same, I think that things changed. We now enjoy exquisite wines of another quality. The truth is that, painting a table like this one with the wines of Algodon is fantastic.
[Page 8:] Photograph
Algodon Gran Reserva 2006. Syrah 40%, Cabernet Sauvignon 40%, Malbec 20%, 18 months in French oak barrels. Of intense and brilliant purplish red color, it has a fruit-like, spicy and complex aroma combined with touches of vanilla and smoke which evidence the ageing in French oak. This wine has a great body and personality; it has a very good concentration, ripe tannins finely combined, well-leveled acidity and excellent balance.
This is the magic of the artists of the province of Mendoza
By Dalila Puzzivio
I’m not interested in guilt nor in salvation, or in eternal life, but in the most simple and everyday matters of life. Little by little, I got into the Christian world and discovered a something different, a world full of sense. Who has made these confessions to us?
Alberto Thormann, an artist born in Mendoza who with his work has gone beyond the limits of Latin America and the boundaries of feeling which release him from the hindrances that might otherwise weaken his freedom at the time of creation. We could have anticipated his work to predict a tormented spirit that from that point of view tries to reflect its conflicts, but Mendoza is a privileged and extremely generous observatory that takes out the best of each creator. And as we get to discover the artists that CUISINE&VINS presents us, I know, that at times they feel peripheral but they are wrong because the discourse that they produce is universal. His education at the School of Plastic Arts of the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo and his being a regular teacher of the Drawing in Design class at Champagnat University, Mendoza, speaks of a solid academic education to handle the profession and the theoretic aspects of it. Buenos Aires, this mega city, at times makes the artists from the provinces feel that their work is dull. But we have to admit that in the same way as globalization makes the center-periphery tension disappear, when we are faced with an artist, Buenos Aires makes no distinctions at time of giving a rating. Thormann´s abstract expressionism can be seen through his use of color and texture, which creates a silent framework so that the spectator can, at last, discover its own melody. Alberto shares his life with his wife Alejandra Civit, a ceramist artist, who is also his third eye in this discourse of senses. He manages to work the different themes with the same freedom that seasons have…sometimes his works recreate the intimate world that the winter inspires in this region and some other times, his works represent the explosions of sun so common during the summers in Mendoza. When it comes to his teachers, he never forgets his uncle, painter Carlos Gómez, who gave him the keys to paradise and Christian Déles, who was also important in his formation as an artist. He is one of the artists of Mendoza who has received the most awards and his produce has also reached Chile, Canada, Taiwan, Mexico, Spain, England and United States. This pictorial harvest has been shown lately in the House of Tourism of Bodega Familia Zuccardi Art and Wine; our readers have absolutely no doubts that both –art and wine- go together. For Alberto Thormann facing a blank canvas bears the same mystery as for us – as children- facing a book with colorless pictures. In this atmosphere he approaches his work, with total freedom.