Javier Cainzos – Moving through the world of art to broaden awareness

No. 133 – April 2006


Javier Cainzos has a degree in Administration. One day he commissioned a mural from Cynthia Cohen and Guadalupe Fernández to be placed in one of his restaurants. He started to get involved with art and today he is a reference for other young collectors. He says that he could not buy the work of an artist whom he did not respect as a person, and that in his case collecting art is an investment alternative that also gives him a lot of pleasure.

He is Director of the Grupo Gastronómico de Buenos Aires (Buenos Aires Gastronomic Group).  At 34, he is in charge of the restaurants Marini, Maizales, 1816, Calcio, Domani and Pueyrredón.  The Group began to acquire artwork after a mural was painted by Cynthia Cohen and Guadalupe Fernández in one of their restaurants. They bought works by Cynthia Cohen, Eduardo Arauz, Remo Bianchedi Martín Di Girolamo, Marcelo Pombo, Benito Laren, Dani Umpi, Gachi Hasper and Alicia Paz, among others. This was a way of spreading art along with business activity.

Arte al Día: When did your interest in art begin? 

Javier Cainzos: When I got divorced. As Director of the Grupo Gastronómico de Buenos Aires, the first artwork I bought was by a Hungarian named Iarca. I was in the United States, in Chicago, going to Miami to visit a friend there.I entered a gallery where there were works by this artist.  Then, I saw some painted plates that I liked. I bought two for my friend and I stood there staring at a work of art. The artist said to me, “That piece is for you.” I had never bought art before, and this was new to me, because it was a world that did not belong to me. Finally, I bought it, I hung it in my house and it was good. Art is a bit like love, suddenly you coincide at one moment and then you go a different way. Now I’m into something else, but back then, the artwork had to do with something that was happening to me at that time. 

AAD: Do you connect with art from an emotional standpoint? 

JC: There is a change in me from moving through the art world as I do now. The works that attract me are those that have to do with affection.

AAD: If a gallery owner or a consultant comes to you and says, “You have to buy this young promise of the art world because it has a future,” but you don’t like it, what do you do? 

JC: I don’t buy it. The works I buy are those that transmit a lot of sensitivity. I am moved by sensitivity, which is what happens to me with people too. I like to surround myself with people who are affectionate. There are artists that I respect but who don’t interest me enough to buy their works. 

AAD: And what is the type of work you are not interested in? 

JC: I don’t like to live with an art piece that causes an effect but from a place that makes you tense, or provokes violent or aggressive feelings. There are very cold works that are interesting but don’t move me. I can admire that piece from the complexity of the work, but nothing happens to me. 

AAD: You are a friend of artists; you began to have a lot of ties with the art world. Do you feel that it has changed your life? 

JC: Yes, my life has changed completely, although my essence is the same. 

AAD: But your daily activity as a businessman was extended by meeting other people, other ways of life, even the artists you are friends with. 

JC: I am the son of immigrants, my father had a restaurant, and the road I traveled in my house was always that of business. Everything was always oriented towards that. The truth is that I am everything my father would have wanted, and that doesn’t pose any conflict for me; I am happy with that, and my father, who is alive, is happy too. I’m doing well. I enjoy what I do, but obviously there has always been an interest in me that goes beyond business. I want it to be clear that I enjoy my business activity and it amuses me, but I also have an interest that is more related to the existential. And I have experienced this since I was very young.  At the age of twenty I bought “Thus spoke Zarathustra,” by Nietzche. At that time I did not understand much, but I was already on a quest. Later, when I entered the world of art, it was like finding the person I loved. I found many coincidences between my interests and those of many people who are in the world of art. 

AAD: Do you feel that in art you have found a space that meets your existential and spiritual needs? 

JC: I would rather say a space in which I can expand my consciousness. Besides doing so with other disciplines: I study theater, philosophy, history of music. 

AAD: What is art? 

JC: That’s a question that comes up among collectors as well. In fact, this year I was with Ignacio (Liprandi) at Arco, and we talked about this topic. For me, art is a connection with others. I think that when you see a work of art you connect with the artist. This is because that artist had an idea of beauty, of sensitivity, or a conceptual idea that synthesizes what happens to you as a spectator. 

AAD: Can you mention a conceptual artist who moves you? 

JC: Luis Camnitzer. 

AAD: What about another artist who is more visual in his proposal, who also moves you? 

JC: Gachi Hasper. 

AAD: So it’s not a question of the trend or the movement that the artist follows, but that the proposal is sensitive, both in a visual and mental order. 

JC: Yes, there is also an artist who I met recently, and I’d like to mention. His name is Dani Umpi. He exhibited in Belleza y Felicidad (Beauty and Happiness). With this artist we agree on the idea of love that we both have. I’d like to produce a play on this theme of love. 

AAD: Would you define yourself as a collector? 

JC: I think I am becoming one. 

AAD: And being a collector is not just about buying works of art. 

JC: No. I believe that one navigates the art world according to one’s interests and possibilities. In my case, there is an interest in the art world. I don’t know what happens to other collectors, but I would love to be an artist,  and I don’t have the talent to be one. But besides buying art, when you have a house full of artwork, something else starts to happen. If you have money available, you can put it in the bank, in a safety deposit box or abroad. But you can also put that money into art. Then it becomes an investment alternative, which is good because it promotes something that you like. Then, you start buying art not just for pleasure but also as an investment. It seems to me that a real collector has more to do with that than with what I’ve been doing so far. It has to do with thinking about how to secure capital, and then another variable appears, which is the art market. That’s why it’s useful to go to Art Fairs, to get to know the reality of the art market. In my case it was like something that simply started to happen, and it led me to think in this way. So little by little, I started to think about buying art as an investment alternative which also gives me a lot of pleasure. 

AAD: Don’t you think you approach your business in a creative way?  

JC: I think so. That’ s something you carry within you. I am always looking to transform myself, looking for things that will constantly impact me, that will transform me as a person. Maybe this is a stage in my life. I’m into this now, but I’m interested in traveling through different worlds. The world of art, the world of theater, music and the world of business. 

AAD: There are works of art in your restaurants. 

JC: Yes, the Grupo Gastronómico de Buenos Aires acquires works of art for its restaurants in many cases. In Marini there is a mural painted by Cynthia Cohen and Guadalupe Fernández. We have bought quite a lot of work at the Zavaleta Lab art gallery. We also had a piece that was from the Sonoridad Amarilla (The Yellow Sound) art space. 

AAD: What advice would you give to someone who is starting to collect?

JC: I would tell them to do it and to circulate through the world of art because it is an enriching experience. They should buy what they like, what they want to have hanging in their house. That is the starting point. I insist on this one aspect that I want to emphasize, and that is that I think I am only now becoming a collector. For me, this is a matter of enjoyment and pleasure. If collecting art were to cause me stress, I wouldn’t do it. 

AAD: What was the first work you acquired? 

JC: I had bought some things before, but I think the first time I bought an artwork from an artist was from Cynthia Cohen. I feel something emotional about her work. From the moment she did the mural in the restaurant, I began to know her, to love her. I have followed her trajectory and I buy her work. It’s very good to hang affections in one’s home. I couldn’t hang something in my house from an artist I didn’t respect as a person.