Nicolás Leiva, Mi Paraiso/My Paradise

December 8, 2011 - January 30, 2012 San Antonio

Born in Tucumán in northwest Argentina in 1958, Leiva made paintings until 1996, when he extended his practice to ceramics. Now, he works in an assortment of materials and divides his time between his studio in Miami and the workshops of Bottega Gatti in Faenze, Italy. Working alongside other craftsmen, it takes Leiva and his team over two weeks to fabricate a single ceramic piece, which enters the kiln seven or eight times as the process of making the gleaming polychrome majolica finish takes place. On the last firing, the gold is applied.


The resultant works of art are unabashedly pleasing to the eye. That his work courts dismissal as decorative art does not bother Leiva. On the contrary, he insists that, "Pleasure is important. The pleasure is the point." His artworks are, like ornate Baroque altars embellished with gold or Buddhist mandalas, designed to capture the viewer's attention. They are machines of contemplation.


Embedded in Leiva's collection of forms and surface designs is a symbolic language that contains the narrative of an ethereal realm, but underlying his tales of paradise is a very real physical practice that is social, as well. Two gilt hands are part of the exhibition. Cast from the hands of a man and a woman at Bottega Gatti, they are Leiva's homage to the Italian craftsmen that work with him. The artists' labor transforms material into art. And when the art is seen, metaphor is collapsed into presence.


- Scott Andrews, San Antonio Current

Installation Views