An award-winning Argentinian artist, Gonzalo Sojo was invited by the Argentine Embassy for a solo exhibit at Satrang Art Gallery, Islamabad. The exhibit was organized in the celebration of 65 years of bilateral relations between Argentina and Pakistan. The show was titled “Director’s cut”, where the widely known artist shared his work, full of intense and bright colors and dream-like patterns that enthralled the audience and the enthusiasts. Describing the beauty of Pakistan and breaking the stereotypes about it in just a short visit of 8 days, he said:
I have met some fantastic people who have been immensely kind. The way Pakistan is portrayed in the media has nothing to do with reality. I like to see things for myself and not just listen to what people are saying. Now I have great friends here and in Lahore and I will like to come back. I only managed to see Lahore, Murree and Islamabad on this eight-day trip. Next time I will take extra time to travel and see this country.
Argentina’s culture is a beautiful mix of native traditions and European inspirations. This culture has a deep impact on Sojo’s work. His paintings are inspired by the popular media and movie characters that are globally recognizable, such as Alice and the White Rabbit. Sojo considers ‘appropriation’ as the constant of his art.
While talking to Dawn, he described how pleased he was with the art culture of Pakistan:
When I travel, the places I see stay in my mind – like in this trip to Lahore I saw the Badshahi Mosque and the colours and motifs are all in my mind. I went to Hast-o-Neest where I saw the traditional miniature art and it left me amazed. I clearly remember the tiny elephant paintings on the walls on the Lahore Fort and all of that influences me and I am certain it will show up in my work.
Despite using famous characters in his work, the depictions are solely his own, where images, metaphors and situations are intertwined with each other. His work represents his childhood scenarios, like cinema stilts, comic books and cartoon characters. These memories, he says are deeply engraved not only in his mind but his work as well. Despite different cultural backgrounds, we all relate to the same characters from mid 20th century which brought a sense of nostalgia to the attendees.
Sojo’s paintings were a part of an art show held 10 years ago in Pakistan, but the exhibit at the Satrang Art Gallery was his first ever visit to Pakistan. All the paintings at this particular exhibit were related to cinema, the place not only having a strong impact on his childhood but being the essence of his career as well. He started his career as a translator in cinema.
A major inspiration of the artist’s paintings are his travels. Inspired by the colors and motifs of Badshahi Mosque, he says that the Mosque will definitely find its way into his paintings. He visited Lahore for a workshop at National College of Arts. The workshop was arranged for second year painting students where he found them to be very talented. The workshop was on “Idea of an artist”. It was a full day workshop where students were present all day without breaks, which was a very rewarding experience according to Gonzalo Sojo.