HOW I FREED MY CLOWNS
Of all my works, this is the dearest for me. Not only because is one of the oldest ones, but because it was one of the most exciting chapters of my childhood: recovering my court of fantastic clowns, who for many years remained in hostage.
I was 6 years old when I made this drawing, at the Arts Program in my school. It was a huge private school set in the middle of the countryside, with six large buildings that accommodated more than 1,000 kids. The moment I made this drawing I remember like yesterday… in which desk I was sitting… the smell of wax crayons… The Art teacher, Mr. Torres, was very impressed with the drawing. He decided to present it to the annual School contest. The drawing was exhibited and won the 1st prize.
That same year, my father, who was a very good painter, left my mother, my older sister and me. It was a tough time for us. At the time, my mother, who ran a children’s clothing store, had trouble covering all the family expenses without the support of my father. Cutbacks had to be made. My mother decided that I would drop out of the Art Program for a while. Shortly afterwards, my art teacher, Mr.Torres, called her for an interview at the school, which was 15 km from the city where we lived. He tried by all means to convince her not to make me drop out. Right or wrong, he was convinced that I was meant to be a great artist. But my mother did not have the money. So I quit. Since that moment, I stopped being Mr. Torres’ “favorite student” and the days of winning all Art contests in the school were over. Which really took the wind out of my sails and tempered my ego.
Seven years later, at age 13, two school friends and I started a strike at the school. Three of our favorite teachers had been unjustly expelled. The incident reached the National press and I was pictured along with my school friends out in the streets and holding banners. For the school authorities I became a “black sheep”. As a result, I suffered from pressure and blackmailing. One day, I heard the school loudspeakers calling my name to rush to the Principal’s office. I sat in front of her defiantly. She gave me a speech about her disappointment and my betrayal to the institution. But I could just look behind her back. My painting, Fantasia, it was hanging right behind her chair in the Principal’s office. As she spoke to me, my mind danced along with my crew of clowns and acrobats.
Shortly after, the painting disappeared from the Principal’s office. That same year, I and other school friends said goodbye to the school where we had studied for 8 years. We moved to a new, more progressive school, which the expelled teachers had just started not far from the old one. But I couldn’t leave my old school without first fulfilling one mission: I needed to recover Fantasia and my clowns. It was a very important part of me, my childhood, my love for fantasy, Walt Disney, and the circus world … It just couldn’t stay there. I made a formal request to the Principal, I spoke tutors and teachers … The answer was No. They told that the picture no longer belonged to me but to the school.
My friend Quique Dorrego was one of the most intrepid and punk people I’ve ever met. He had stolen a key set for all the school doors. I asked him to help me get my painting back. One morning, along with two close friends, we entered the school Boardroom. There, at the end of a long table, presiding over the room on the wall, was Fantasia. We took down the picture, we took the frame apart, and we hung the now empty frame. It was surreal! Which had us rolling. And we ran away at full speed. My heart was beating like a drum.
My friend Quique later became a successful TV advertising model. Tragically, he took his life at age 27. Thanks to him, we can now see Fantasia.
Dedicated to Quique Dorrego, who now must be playing basketball with my clowns.
FANTASIA is one of the works in display at my retrospective exhibition.