Landed in Buenos Aires, Argentina last week. It’s been intense, confusing and wonderful.
Right away, my artist friend Maria took me to meet Gabriela Aberastury. Painter, printmaker and illustrator, 70-year-old Gabriela is by turns sweet, shocking, subtle, kindly, observant, uncouth, and smart-alecky.
At the studio they run together, Espacio Camargo, Gabriela and Maria generously took the time to pull out Gabriela’s many works to show me. There were many beautiful works, including one of 36-limited editions of Borges’ El Aleph by Gabriela and long-time collaborator Ruben R. Lapolla – but something happened when I saw this thinner, taller book. Reaching inside the slender handmade box, the moment my white-gloved fingers wrapped around the spine and felt the cover bend, I swear to you I felt shivers run along my skin and something happened between throat and chest.
The book was made to commemorate the 50th anniversary of André Breton’s publication of the Surrealist Manifesto. Gabriela met Breton’s wife, an accomplished French writer, Elisa Breton, in Paris to give her a copy of the book. Elisa wrote Gabriela a nice note (see above). When the Centre Pompidou presented an exhibition on André Breton, Gabriela’s book was featured in the exhibit too.
Last week, I wanted to blog about those first two days in Buenos Aires. (But didn’t.) I had booked the plane ticket on a whim. Left a few days later. Arrived not knowing really why I had come. (Other than for the perfectly good reason to visit Maria.) Then suddenly the encounter with the Breton and Borges books. And the other works. And the people here.
I’m still uncovering what this trip holds for me. But what magic and wonder to encounter these pages.
And to meet Gabby.
I haven’t asked Gabriela if she likes visitors. Part of me thinks not. And yet something in her face reminds me of George Whitman, who never turned away a visitor lest they be an angel. I feel lucky to have been Gabby’s guest. A week later, guess where she took me today?