Desde mi estudio / How to look at the artwork – Fortunato Lacámera

Section Arte para Todos, coordinated by Alicia de Arteaga. December 28, 2003.

In this piece you can appreciate the atmosphere of Italian artists who in 1920 settled in the neighborhood of La Boca. 

Fortunato Lacámera’s production evokes a certain melancholy of the “longed-for homeland” that characterizes the idiosyncrasy of a social group that came to Argentina within the immigration movement of the mid-19th century. This sadness, taken to its most extreme point, is found in tango lyrics, where the sentimental gloating is anchored in the issue of abandonment, the extreme romanticism of unrequited love, waiting and discomfort in the face of political situations, sometimes in a critical way, as in Discépolo’s “Cambalache”.

Far from the protest tone of the famous tango’s author, Lacámera chooses an intimate and introspective atmosphere, along with other artists, such as Víctor Cúnsolo, Onofrio Pacenza and Horacio March, who in the late 1920s settled in the neighborhood of La Boca. 

The son of Genoese immigrants, Lacámera studied painting with Alfredo Lazzari, at the Sociedad de Unión de La Boca, while painting walls in “Italian style” with imitation marble to make ends meet. Desde mi estudio (From my Studio) is a painting that is part of a series.  In it, the artist describes the solitude of his studio where he could see, from the open doors, the Riachuelo, anchored boats, evanescent smoke and silhouettes of buildings reflected in windows so characteristic of the Caminito passage and the surroundings of the current Quinquela Martin Museum.

The artist speaks of his world. With remarkable beauty, he describes the humble objects that he shares his days with: the rustic painter’s table, the unprepared blank canvas, and the typical furniture from the surroundings of San Telmo and La Boca, which today we can find in the stores located around the Antiques Fair in Plaza Dorrego. Objects such as the sideboard set on the left, with the vase of paintbrushes, the bottles of gin and the reflection of a painting. Like another painting hanging very close to the ceiling, every detail silently reveals that this place is a painter’s studio. The significance of the low light that enters through the window and touches the furniture builds the image in a line of perspective shifted towards the left angle of the painting. Lacámera’s works are not only workshop scenes, but also an external model used to express an internal feeling referred to the intensity of absence and isolation. He manages to create a landscape of contained emotion using variations of brown colors and low-key colors. In this way, he transmits a particular emotion to the viewer that arises from the perfect synthesis between thought and emotional content. 

Fortunato Lacámera

He was born and died in Buenos Aires, in a house on Almirante Brown Avenue (1887-1951). Along with Víctor Cúnsolo, he is one of the most outstanding figures of the artists of La Boca. His paintings are recognized by their intimate atmosphere. His studio, a solitary flower in a glass, the light that draws on the floor the shadow of a blind, are all elements that outline a magical world of humble everyday life.

Key information: 

Year: 1930

Technique: oil on canvas

Size: 100 x 80 cm. 

Where to find it: Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, Avenida del Libertador 1473.

*The author has a degree in Art History from the University of Buenos Aires. Teacher, art critic and independent curator. She is currently a correspondent for the international art magazine Lápiz (Madrid).