“We cannot hear the birds now, but sometimes, we can hear them,” he says. Through the Zoom camera, you can see some tall, deep trees, Caribbean greenery. Venezuelan plastic artist Francisco Pinto’s workshop is on the top floor of a three-story house in the Lomas de la Trinidad neighborhood in Caracas. The fretwork windows are inlaid with geometric parameters or large rectangles and occupy an entire wall. Light is abundant. In one corner, three skateboards have been turned into prototypes of ships carrying enslaved people. A fabric sculpture adorns one of the walls. On the white parapet is a row of canvases of a series of book covers about Venezuela’s African history. Pinto, wearing black-rimmed glasses, an orange shirt, and a hat, speaks in a lulling voice. Each response is made up of stories, anecdotes, which are multiplied in each conversation, email, or WhatsApp message. His aesthetic universe functions in the same manner, overlapping layers: collages, paintings, installations. Some of them were brought together in his recent solo show: Un lugar secreto, Sombras en el bosque (A Secret Place, Shadows in the Forest, 2022), at the Museum of African American Art in Caracas.
C& América Latina: When and how did you start making art?
Francisco Pinto: I knew as a child that I wanted to be an artist. I don’t have any formal education, but I have studied with various artists. I took classes with Pedro Centeno Vallenilla when he was about ninety years old, and I was Juan Loyola’s assistant. The relationship I maintain with artists is key in my process. Now, I am fully dedicated to art, but previously I worked as a publicist. That world influenced me a lot. Early on, I worked with Disney figures. They were bizarre figures; the work was very ironic. I made some Mickeys with large limbs. But later I felt that was not enough. I wanted a work that would meet my expectations and I came to it without looking for it.