Life In Stills: An Interview with Francisco Diaz Scotto, aka Pastel
As his stunning solo show comes to a close at Hashimoto Contemporary in SF, Francisco Diaz Scotto (Pastel) speaks about a boldly powerful body of work. Featurung new paintings inspired nostalgic memories found in this film camera at the artists family home in Misiones, Argenitina, Patio Misionero is personal and universal. The show is on view through January 29, 2022.
Vanessa Indies: What inspires you the most while you’re creating a concept for a mural or a painting?
Francisco Diaz Scotto (Pastel): The creation process for my murals go hand in hand with the creation of my studio work. Both of these are inspired by previous studies of an area where I will create the mural or painting such as the history of the city, society, architecture, economy, and urban planning. Especially for my murals every one of these pieces affects my painting process and the development of it will be related to the environment of the wall or building, performing some kind of dialogue or contrast in between. With that approach, I understand the mural composition in 360 degrees with a continuity on the urban landscape. Every time I’ve had the chance to visit a new place to paint, I enter through their local history, how the society works, their geography, economy and politics. I filter through this research and add to local flora that surrounds the location. I must say botanical representation is an excuse to get into other layers of the specific area.
In the atelier, I apply the same search mechanisms for my paintings on canvas while reflecting the external limit of analysis. I can create deeply personal work that is built by a record and emotional memory of each concept's missionary roots. Themes such as twilight, home, jungle and dogs force the integral development of his work.
How has your Argentinian background formed your painting style? For example; color pallets from your surroundings, nostalgic imagery from places you’ve lived in throughout your life.
Most of my style was formed by my adolescence on the streets of Argentina creating graffiti, which started around age 14. My style then developed even more once I studied architecture at UBA and both worlds began to blend in my head. Throughout the study of modern architecture and urban city planning, I realized graffiti was a big proponent for urban landscaping. First, graffiti has the power to transform forgotten or ignored areas into recognizable spots. Secondly, graffiti is also a magnificent tool to enhance the identity and a sense of belonging in a neighborhood, more than any other element of architecture is capable of doing.
Also, if I have to reflect on myself to find personal references or nostalgic imagery as you referred, I should mention the times that I spent during my childhood at my grandma's home. She lived in the north of Argentina, and every color, smell or texture was an influential experience through tropical pallets and strong scenarios. This environment also had a huge impact on my design style and how I approach color schemes and imagery in my work.
It’s very interesting that your artistic upbringing in graffiti moved you towards architectural school. Could you explain what then caused you to move away from your path in architecture to become a full time painter and muralist and what was the inspiration to do so?
I was born and raised in Buenos Aires, an eclectic city that went through many different urban master-planning and chaotic political decisions through the years. First, trying to take Paris as a reference in the early 1900´s, then almost 30 years of military government rule which then destroyed every chance of having harmony within public spaces and developing a relationship between humans and their environment. This made me think about creating value in an overbuilt place by bringing attention and beauty to areas that were ignored or devalued. From there I started to see mural paintings as a way to develop architecture, almost as urban acupuncture, by making small actions that create positive reactions.
Your new body of work for your solo exhibition Patio Misionero at Hashimoto Contemporary SF is based on found photographs from your family's home in Misiones, Argentina. How did this city inspire your paintings? Were you also living in the house yourself when you were growing up? And how have your feelings for this place changed over time as you’ve grown as an artist?
Apóstoles is a very small town in the province of Misiones. With mostly tropical weather, the soil is red and contrasts with the local nature which is strongly beautiful. My grandma used to grow orchids and different types of flowers. She's a solitary person who used to communicate herself with those actions. Finding this old camera and the film inside made me discover an amazing narrative she created and an inconsequential reflection of what I've experienced during my childhood.