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PEDRO FIGARI and THE WORLD
When Figari said “we” or “us”, he meant South America. His fatherland didn’t end on the Brazilian border. I remember a critic saying on the radio that if someone is going to teach ceramics in Uruguay, he won’t be teaching how to make huacos; well, when Figari taught ceramics, he did teach how to do huacos. When he painted indians in Andean landscapes playing quenas, I don’t think he felt he was painting something foreign.
This carries me back to what Le Corbusier wrote to and about him: his fatherland, Latin America, or Dr. Leo Eloesser: the most gaucho and most universal painter…in South America.
About “universal”, I was pleased to hear that Christie's, Paris, will include him in the sale of impressionist and modern painters (2 XII 04), as I find “Latin American painters” discriminating, even if Figari felt well at ease as very South American.
He remains quite Uruguayan, no doubt, and belongs to our national heritage, but why would we care about him only within borders? His work is well represented in official collections, either State or City Halls, or local private collections, and those works deserve greater care and attention than than they’ve been granted, but all his paintings elsewhere deserve care too. I don’t find it’s enough, but I’m glad that he hangs on walls the world over: Orsay, MOMA, Houston, Los Angeles, Bogota, Caracas, Reina Sofia, in official collecions that I have information about.
I remember with approval how my aunt and godmother Elena Faget Figari wanted to donate Baron von Thyssen a painting for his collection.
More or less important private collections include or are dedicated to Figari in U.S.A., Europe, South American countries, and even Japan.
I remember two anecdotes related to Figari’s extraterritoriality: I had to go through customs proceedings about a painting arrived at Uruguay, and walking past the picture, an official, a woman, said: “If Figari painted the picture, it has been smuggled out of the country”. I grabbed her arm, held her still and asked her if she knew how many pictures had Figari painted in Uruguay. She stared at me and I said: “almost none”. The other anecdote is about a large and good painting, bought by a Uruguayan in New York and hung in a show in a ministry here. A critic wrote: “the happily repatriated painting”, and I told him “wrong”, because Figari had painted and sold the picture in Paris, and it was now here for the first time.
Fernando Saavedra Faget.