The arts have always been present in her life.
Por Sacha Vaz
Her father was a doctor, poet and artist. Her mother, besides being an interior decorator, was host of a TV program about interior design. Having been producing and exhibiting for over 40 years, the plastic artist and wife of the new Consul General of Brazil in Toronto, Solange Escosteguy told us a little about her history and her diplomatic responsibilities. The “gaúcha” was born in Porto Alegre, and says that she is enchanted with the city of Toronto.
The art was always your goal or you have you had other occupations? What is your educational background?
Solange – I took a course in health inspection, a kind of social work. But my interest in art was stronger and I began to devote myself only to the arts. At 19 I was already an artist participating in the movements of the New Brazilian Objectivity and took part in innovative parades.
I never thought I’d be something else, but now I think that I could have been a good architect. I did several courses in studio, but no regular university course. My work has developed thanks to my own effort and perseverance.
What are your main influences?
Solange – I was obviously influenced by the artists who participated in the New Objectivity. Oiticica was arguably the person most interested in what I did and inspired me by writing my first presentation. At that time it was mentioned that I was influenced by Mondrian. Actually, I think that was an anti-geometry, which Oiticica called anti-boxes, nothing to do with Mondrian and geometric artists. I never bothered with that theme. In fact my work has always revolved around the shapes and colors, as this was what I knew. I never learned to draw.
What job do you consider your greatest collaboration in the arts?
Solange – I think my work in fabric painting was a pioneering effort. At that time there were few artists who ventured in it. My dresses were never a picture painted into a dress, but a piece in which the paint, body and movement were integrated into one creation. Years later I discovered the papier-mâché. Then, I developed a line of work and today I find very gratifying to look back to the classes I taught and the little seeds of creativity that I left in the various countries I lived in. Besides being a way to recycle materials, papier-mâché is also a search for solutions to make the work stand out, and that requires enormous creativity.
How do you view the painting in the world today?
Solange –There’s always room for painting and creativity, but today there is a large affluence of everything that is technology. It is impossible not to follow what the world offers you.
How do you see your art?
Solange –I cannot stop to think on what might have been. What I do is the result of my experiences. I did and do the best that I can with all my mistakes and successes.
What’s like to be the wife of an ambassador? What are your responsibilities?
Solange –Representing my country is a huge responsibility. As in everything I do, I try hard, sometimes I do it right, sometimes wrong. But I’ve often felt the weight of the office and on those occasions, I try to turn it into something positive and generous.
Tell us a little about your project in Angola …
Solange – Angola was an incredible experience. I’m sure no one goes through such a country, in full economic recovery but still with enormous development problems, without feeling the weight of the difficulties. We went to Luanda with great enthusiasm and in that spirit I tried to help my Ambassador in the cultural sector, which is what I know more. I also did an extremely rewarding job of supporting the poor population. I was also able to offer several workshops for local artists, transferring my experience with papier-mâché. I say with absolute honesty that I used the weight of his office to unite our community around several causes and it was amazing to be able to rely on the generosity of many Brazilians.
Having just arrived in Toronto, what are your impressions about the city so far?
Solange – Coming from Angola, the amount of greens, flowers, birds and squirrels jumps out, giving the city an air of tranquility. My attention was also drawn by the mixture of the old and the modern, the streetcars co-habiting with the subways, the huge amount of museums and film festivals and also the great mix of people absolutely integrated into the local life. Not to mention the cleanliness of the city. A turn of 180 degrees. Heat to cold. I’m sure we will spend wonderful years here.