|Juan Manuel Sánchez in Buenos Aires circa 2014|
In 1997 I began to learn to dance the Argentine tango. In my class there was a classy and attractive woman, Nora Patrich and her husband Juan Manuel Sánchez, a chubby man who looked like Picasso.
I soon met them and found out that both were Argentine artists who lived in Vancouver. We became friends and we began a long and extremely collaborative period of work with painting, drawing and photography. We enjoyed talking about our longing for Argentina. We had a big show in a South Granville art gallery that we called Nostalgia.
Around 2010 the couple separated and returned to their native country in separate airplanes. Every time I returned to Buenos Aires I would visit them in their separate studios.
A bit before Sánchez died on 5 October 2016 I visited him. We went around the corner to a famous pizzeria called El Cuartito. We had a special Argentine pizza called fugazza which only has onion and cheese. With it we had the traditional fortified (very sweet) wine called moscato. It tastes (particularly since it is served ice cold) like grape juice but it has quite a kick. As we left Sánchez told me, “Ando pedo,” which translates to a more decent, “I am drunk.” We went to a corner café. We were having a nice chat and when I told him, “In my next trip…”. He quickly interrupted me with, “I will not be here.”
This man who was 86 knew he was not going to live much longer.
Sánchez would begin every day with a blank canvas (he was as prolific as Picasso and never had an artist’s block). He told me that he had a problem that needed a resolution. This resolution was to find the simplest route to what he considered was the essence of a woman. In most cases his women were painted with not much on. One day I said that perhaps he would face a blank canvass and paint one black dot on it and finish right there. With a smile he told me that this was a possibility.
Before I had met Sánchez, I had been taking photographs of undraped women since I arrived in Vancouver in 1975. I thought there was something wrong with me. But it was Sánchez who convinced me that not only was I a good commercial photographer but I was also an artist. Suddenly I felt sort of normal. With his wife Nora the three of us embarked on our Argentine nostalgia which almost always had something to do with the female form.
I miss this man who was my artist mentor.
Today after weeks of making my scanner negative sandwiches (without mayonnaise) I find it paradoxically fabulous that I have made my first non-nude sandwich with a couple of photographs I took of him perhaps two years before he died in his studio. Below my blogs about my scanner negative sandwhiches.Uelsmann Inspired