Who would ever believe that someday we could have breakfast with “ La Marimonda”, “The Donkey in pijamas”, “El Congo” , “El Monocuco” or any other character of the emblematic Carnival of Barranquilla and without spilling a drop of sweat, far from the music and the Caribbean wind? Such a wonderful experience is now possible thanks to the talent of Ana Cristina Bojanini. She has invaded many offices, houses, hotels, convention centers, lofts, condominiums, restaurants, with her art printing a new style of decoration full of glamour and Colombian identity.
Bojanini is an extroverted artist who loves freedom. She was born in Barranquilla, Colombia where she studied arts at the Atlantico University. She got a Masters in Fine Arts and a bachelor degree in business administration from Autonoma University. She also went to School of Arts Torbatis in Los Angeles, CA and took extension courses at the University of Houston. In 2007 she received a prize of artistic creativity in Colombia. The pillars of her work are discipline, creativity, versatility and originality.
I managed to speak with Bojanini hours before she took an airplane to the United States. It was at the beginning of year 2011 and she already had her future projects in her mind and all well set up in her agenda.
How have you managed to commercialize your art?
I recognize that each individual makes perfect things and I like it, but I am a very individualistic person, in the sense that I am not observing what the neighbor is doing. I focus on myself because I was raised like that, and I am like that.
At the beginning I heard people saying how come you are commercializing your art? But now, everybody wants to design cups, notebooks, glasses, etc. I have always been authentic. I love to study, to travel around the world, and by doing so, you learn a lot. I used to visit a lot of museums and I noticed that I ended up buying something whether it was an umbrella or a pen, or any other souvenir. So I came up with this idea: If people cannot buy my paintings, they can buy a lithography, a note pad, a glass, something. It is as simple as it sounds. Now I have created many items that you can’t imagine.
How do you define your art?
My art is very expressionist, it has a lot of color, is very Caribbean, it is a rich trowel of color. I began painting musicians, but I like to make variations. I do all this by hand and from my painting I choose some to create accessories. I have a spectacular set of accessories that go from kitchen items to furniture, home and living.
What does it mean the jazz in you artwork?
I am from Barranquilla, from the Caribbean of Colombia. I like music and instruments, like the contrabass. When I think about Barranquilla the word Carnival shows up immediately. I like to include something of the folklore: Box, accordion in my work. I also like jazz and I know music is in everybody’s vein somehow.
How do you describe the Bojanini phenomenon?
Each person has their own creativity not meaning that if I have succeeded everybody can make it. Bojanini might not be a phenomenon, but for me has been like crazy. I make something and it is instantly sold. Every day I create a different piece of art you can even fine art deco in portfolios, in metal, and for the 2011 there will be many surprises. My art is available for every single person. I have some lithographies for those who cannot buy a painting. Or they can acquire a porthole glass, a bag, a table, etc.
How do you feel when you bring your art oversees?
It is wonderful to see how people really admire the color, and they buy it. It’s incredible to make that happen since to sell is not easy at all. I believe when one makes the things with love, affection, people can sense that well. You can’t imagine how much passion I give to my painting. When I say something is going to be sold, it is sold. Even though my employees laugh at me and it is sold out!
Bojanini immortalizes the Colombian culture. How do you perceive this identity in the Colombian Diaspora?
I felt very uncomfortable when once in the United States a waiter didn’t want to speak Spanish because he was ashamed. That kind of situation impacted me because when you are an immigrant is necessary to have a good level of ethnic identity so you give to your children some positive feelings of pride regarding being a member of their ethnic group. I am very Colombian pro, Barranquillera pro.
What artists do you admire?
I can’t deny that I love Picasso , and I also admire my friend Rosario Heins. She is from Colombia, and her ancestors were from Germany. She lives in Montpellier and her work is just amazing!
How is your creative process?
I do not plan much anything. I have moments of madness attack . I suddenly want to do something, although I am not impulsive, it is just that I want to do something and I just do it!. Sometimes clients suggest what they would like, so I always carry a pen and I draw. I dream with colors all day long, it seems like images come along to my brain. I have a great surprise for 2011 but I cannot say it yet.
Could you mention some of your future plans?
We are going to have an art gallery in Barranquilla. We began to construct it in April, and I hope it will be opened by the middle of December. You will find a bar as a special room for guests. I know that many artists don’t have the opportunity to exhibit their works, then we want to support this new generation of Colombian artists.
As a medium term project we will have a gallery in Miami. I want to grow every day and I believe that we all need to leave a legacy in this life.
Do you remember any anecdote as an artist?
I have a very bad memory, but recently in my store in Bogota, I heard when a client said that my art look the same that someone else. My salesman was quite uncomfortable but I asked the client if he knew the curriculum of the artist and the answer was not. Then I told him about my work, my exhibitions around the world, I explained him the characteristics of my art, etc.
What make you feel frustrated?
What frustrates me more is to see the lack of creativity and initiative in people. It bothers me a lot when they copy me, now I see the vulgar copy of my art and I do not tolerate that. I wish people could see inside themselves and make things original.
Do you have any element that remains always in your artwork?
My dad always suggested me to put something red and he was not liberal (laughs). I integrate that color because my dad loved it so much and when you work with joy, with passion, when you believe very much in yourself… Red symbolizes all that.
What will be your advice for those Colombian artists that live and work overseas?
I have being a prophet in my own land. That is why I think that we must offer jobs to our own people, charity begins at home. I treat my employees like if they were my own children. It is a beautiful relationship and I believe that Life will give you back everything you have given to it. My advice to all artists is: Look inside yourselves, not outside. When you believe in yourself, people will notice that. There are many artists that didn’t have a penny in their pockets when they began, however, they make it. You can make it!
Guest Editor: Magaly Casallas
Photos: Ana Cristina Bojanini
Decoration pictures of Bojanini: Juliana Olaya Gnecco.
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