Esteban Tedesco: Living with Beauty

No. 127 – August 2005

He is a plastic surgeon and feels that art consists not only in buying a work of art; it is also a way of life. Behind a piece of art there is an author and that is why he likes to meet artists, who in many cases are also his friends. He prefers not to take a vacation in order buy a painting and to live without a car. He recognizes that changes in his choices go hand in hand with his personal changes. He began by acquiring Epaminondas Chiama still lifes and Armando Repetto’s landscapes, then he approached the 80’s and today his collection focuses on the 90’s: Hasper, Ballesteros, Siquier, Macchi, Kacero among many others, and more recently the emerging generation of Tomás Espina, Matías Duville and Leopoldo Estol. In this interview he tells Arte al Día what it is like to be a professional and an art collector.

Arte al Día: When did you start buying art?

Esteban Tedesco: At the age of 18. At that time, I liked country landscapes. The first thing I bought was art by Armando Repetto and Raúl Russo. In the meantime, I was studying. I studied general surgery in England and Ireland, and here in Buenos Aires I specialized in plastic surgery. I worked at Rivadavia Hospital for 7 years and at Fernandez Hospital for 15, until a few years ago. I always liked the hospital activity, regardless of having my own private practice.

AAD: In your house there are works by Carnacini, D’Arienzo and an enormous amount of modern art, all the way from Marcelo Pombo to the photos of Santiago Porter. How did a change so great come about in the choices of your collection?

E.T: It was approximately 7 years ago that I began to take an interest in contemporary art. I went from Repetto to the ’80s and then to the most recent production. First with Gachi Hasper and then Siquier, Macchi, and so on.

AAD: It’s almost a complete change of course, a very strong turn.

E.T.: Yes, at the end of the 80’s I met Ruth Benzacar for lunch at Erica Roberts’ house. At that time, I didn’t buy from her because she could see everything that was coming and to me at that time that seemed very strange. She always told me that you have to buy contemporary. I missed a lot of things because I didn’t listen to her. What she was defending at the end of the 80’s is what today is transcending all over the world, but well, at that time I didn’t realize it, I didn’t like the aesthetics of the 90’s. Ruth was an advanced person. Another person who helped me was Mercedes Casanegra. We took a course when the Principium gallery opened. We were a group, together with Alexandra de Royere, María Mancini, and we all changed. At first Mercedes was talking about Omar Schiliro, Feliciano Centurion, and we were looking at each other as if we were horrified, and suddenly I began to understand everything.

AAD: And you began to make contact with the artists of the ’90s?

E.T: Yes, I became very close to Ernesto Ballesteros, Pablo Siquier and Gachi Hasper, and I changed more because I was evidently changing. There was a reason I approached them. That shift was taking place in me, and I accepted it as a natural process in life. You meet with the people who in each moment accompany the different stages of your life.

AAD: Until we reach the new generations.

E.T: Indeed.

AAD: Can you mention a couple of artists who are among your interests today or who surprise you?

E.T: Today, the artists who interest me most are Leopoldo Estol and Diego Bianchi.

AAD: For many people Estol’s installations are difficult to understand.

E.T: I find it very aesthetic, I bought the complete series of photos of his installation Parque (Park), and besides, he is very intelligent. He is a child genius, I understand what he does and I like it. In every corner of his installations there is beauty.

AAD: What do you look for in art?

E.T: Aesthetics.

AAD: It has to do with your profession.

E.T: Totally. I’m interested in beauty, and my concept of beauty has been changing.

AAD: Where do you acquire your work?

E.T: Where I find what I like. I trade or buy in many payments. This Pombo I have here I bought it 2 years ago and I am still paying for it. I am a professional, I don’t have any money. I don’t take vacations, for example, I prefer to stay here and buy a painting. I don’t have a car either. It’s a choice. In the beginning, 30 years ago, I bought in San Telmo, all over the place, and the prices were very low.

AAD: Do you have an advisor when you want to acquire a work of art?

E.T: No. I have friends, like Alberto Sendrós, Orly Benzacar and Marina Pellegrini, with whom I talk. There is also Sara García Uriburu whom I adore, she is a very good person. I consider them to be people who have a good eye. But not advisors, not at all. I buy what I like. Sometimes I meet the artist, I like them and I help them. I’ve known Marina Pellegrini for many years and somehow we’ve trained together in art, she’s made a change too. Another person who always helps me is Ana Gallardo. She is very honest and being an artist she has a different and disinterested angle. She always says that there are artists she believes in and others she doesn’t, and she gives me a different look.

AAD: Do you go to Art Biennials and Fairs?

E.T: I went to the São Paulo Biennial last year. I didn’t go to the Venice Biennale this year because it was too expensive, unfortunately I couldn’t. I still find out about everything, but there are things I simply cannot do.

AAD: Do you follow some criteria in the choice of an artwork?

E.T: I always try to buy the best of each artist, what most represents them.

AAD: Is there any artist that interests you in particular?

E.T: Yes, Ernesto Ballesteros. I think he’s an exquisite artist, and I think he’s going to make a big breakthrough.

AAD: What is art for you?

E.T: It’s everything, it’s a way of life. If I enter a house and there is no art, be it paintings or books, for me it is an empty house.