Aníbal Jozami – Art as a pleasure that reflects the design of a life

No. 136 – July 2006. 


He is a sociologist, businessman and academic. Father of 3 children. Dean of the Universidad Tres de Febrero, Director of the Fundación Foro del Sur and of the Revista Archivos del Presente. His collection resembles himself and not the canons dictated by others. From the beginnings of national painting with Malharro, through Suárez and Jorge Macchi, he has one of the most complete collections of Argentine art. 

Arte al Día (AAD): When did you start collecting art?  

Aníbal Jozami (AJ): In 1974. I had plenty of time, I was unemployed. My ex-wife had a good salary and I was mainly dedicated to political militancy. I lived in Vicente López and walked every morning to San Isidro, where Raquelita Silberman’s L’Atelier Gallery was located. She saw that I always looked through the window and then leave. One day she asked me why I didn’t go in, and I told her that I wasn’t going to be able to buy anything because I was out of work. She told me to take any painting I wanted and that I could pay for it when I had a job. I picked two paintings, one by Schurjin and another by Ludueña. 

AAD: You have one of the few collections that, in addition to contemporary art, also includes masters of Argentine art, such as Malharro and Berni, among many others. 

AJ: I think you can’t take contemporary art as if it were something detached from the past. Today’s artists exist because there were other artists before them. There is one example we have discussed, and that is how Pablo Suárez used the colors of Gramajo Gutiérrez.

AAD: Today you treasure very important and sought-after pieces such as those by Berni, which you acquired before they became popular. 

AJ: I’ve always bought art that was related to different moments of my life. As I worked for many years in the north, I bought from artists in that region. Like Osorio Luque, who painted the roads of Tucumán and the wagons that carried sugar cane, which were the ones I was afraid of crashing when I traveled by car. Other artists have to do with political militancy, such as the Grupo Espartaco. It is not always the political or geographical content that attracts me, it can also be the beauty of a woman as in some works of Presas. 

AAD: Do you have any artistic advisors? 

AJ: No. Sometimes I ask for opinions to reassure myself with what I have already bought. 

AAD: Why do you think people collect art?

AJ: There are collectors who only want to be “collectors”, having the title. Just like if you want to play golf you hire a golf teacher, you hire a curator who tells you what you have to buy so that what you have is a collection. I buy what I like, for pleasure. My link with art and as an art buyer is enjoyment.

AAD: At one point your collection began to have more contemporary art pieces. 

AJ: It happened naturally, I attend the latest exhibitions, find things I like and buy them. 

AAD: What do you think about the idea of buying Argentine art as an investment? 

AJ: As an idea it’s very good. I think that Argentine art is lagging behind in its worth, it should actually be worth three or four times more when you compare it with artists from that same period and of the same quality from other places in the world. 

AAD: However, this is not the case, even though today there is a growing interest in the world for Argentine art, and Latin American art.

AJ: Indeed, but the country does not support it. Within Argentina’s cultural policy there is not one single element that has the objective of positioning Argentine artists abroad. At the antipodes of Argentina’s position, we find China, where there’s a State Policy that aims at having 100 Chinese artists with a million dollars as their worth. 

AAD: Let’s talk a little about the ley de mecenazgo (patronage law). 

AJ: I think we should have a patronage law that is based on Argentine reality. If this is a country in which there is a lot of tax evasion, and if you want to encourage capital to patronize art, you have to give a series of advantages that will serve as an incentive for less tax evasion and more declaration of assets. That way those who do so will have the possibility of allocating part of that money to art. This would not only improve the country’s tax situation, but also something positive would be done for art as well. The previous patronage law proposal included such minimal percentages that in a country where many people evade, it would obviously be more convenient for those people to continue evading than to legally declare things on that basis. By putting obstacles, you are only losing the possibility of turning Argentina back into a place where there are important works of art. 

AAD: This year for the first time the institutional image of the São Paulo Biennial belongs to an Argentine artist, Jorge Macchi. What do you think about this?

AJ: It’s important, but the Biennial lasts three months and it hasn’t even been promoted here yet.