Ernesto Beckford - Collage Artist
Why a collage? A collage is neither a painting nor a photograph, neither new nor old, neither entirely figurative nor abstract. It encompasses all these elements, blended to create an artwork that resonates with the past while embracing modern diversity.
My life experiences resemble a collage. I grew up in Buenos Aires as a descendant of Spanish, English, African, and Indigenous people. My upbringing was a patchwork of contrasts. I attended a stern British school where Argentina's history and native culture were taught in English. It seemed odd yet befitting that I should learn my country's history in another country's language.
Beyond the school’s walls, my neighborhood reflected a cultural melting pot. Italian Argentines lived alongside Jewish and Basque Argentines, their distinct perspectives merging harmoniously. The streets echoed stories of those who migrated to cosmopolitan Buenos Aires from other places and countries, seeking new beginnings. Among them was my great-grandmother, who came from the northern provinces near the Andes. My mother described her as a dark-skinned and determined woman who would use rice talcum powder on her face to appear "whiter" and gain acceptance among the "elite” porteños of Buenos Aires. Such was my early experience of racism and class consciousness.
When we moved to the United States to escape the violence of Argentina’s Dirty War, I learned to appreciate and incorporate a new diversity, including American superheroes like Superman, Batman, and other mythologies. I incorporated these stories and other American perspectives into my thoughts but reinterpreted them in my way, with an Argentine flavor and finesse.
Thus, my artistic metaverse took shape – a fusion of emotional and creative threads from my past, interwoven with a Latin American aesthetic. I create my collages using fragments from old books I purchase at flea markets or used bookstores (such as the Kafka bookstore in Buenos Aires). I combine these with figures from magazines or newspapers and add watercolors and pastels to create a mosaic, a collage that bridges reality and imagination. A collage that intertwines my personal emotional journey with the realities of modern history.
Ernesto Raúl Beckford