Mario Black is a Uruguayan artist who has been painting for as long as he can remember. His work is recognised as part of traditional Uruguayan heritage and culture, depicting and preserving the long practised celebration of Candombe. Candombe is a UNESCO recognised aspect of Uruguayan culture dating back to times of African slavery and refers to a specific music and dance based on 3 types of drums which are all often seen in Black’s compositions. His work captures the vibrancy of the small nation through its use of colour, as well as Black’s ability to create movement in his pieces. At times you cannot help but hear the carnival music resonate from the canvas.
1) Which art movement do you consider most influential on your practice?
For me, art that depicts black history and culture, especially music and dance, influences me the most. In particular art that captures these aspects as part of South American black culture is of particular interest to me.
2) Where do you go and when to make your best art?
I have to be outside, be it on the busy streets in Montevideo where I can take in the sights, the sounds, the smells or out in nature. I started painting at a very young age and taught myself from what I saw, but also took a lot from the loneliness that comes from being a street artist.
3) How do you describe your 'creative process'?
I tend to paint what I see and then see where the colour palette takes me!
4) Which artist, living or deceased, is the greatest inspiration to you?
Oh so many! From smaller unknown local artists here in Uruguay who paint it’s beauty so magnificently, to the greats like Van Gogh and Picasso.
5) If you weren't an artist, what would you do?
I enjoyed psychology when I was younger, but unfortunately when I was university age, black kids didn’t see themselves there, so you didn’t pursue it.
6) What do you listen to for inspiration?
I enjoy classical music mainly as well as instrumental music performed primarily from wind instruments. My music needs to be calming.
7) If you could own one artwork, and money was no object, which piece would you acquire?
The Mona Lisa or anything by Picasso!
8) If your dream museum or collection owner came calling, which would it be?
It would be someone very unknown to the wider world, but there was a man who, when I was very very young and learning on the streets he helped me tremendously in honing my skills. If I could find him again I’d love to shake his hand..
9) What is your key piece of advice for artists embarking on a fine art or creative degree today?
Paint, Paint Paint! Create Create Create! You learn everytime you use your brush or pen or pencil. And always be humble and have humility.
10) What is your favorite book of all time (fiction or non fiction)?
I don’t read very much, but it would have to be the Bible.
11) If you could hang or place your artwork in one non traditional art setting, where would that be?
Anywhere in Saudi Arabia.
12) What was the biggest lesson your university course or time studying taught you?
I have no formal training or education. I was born in a small town in the middle of the country. My father dabbled a bit with art, but had to work on the train tracks and so we moved a lot. I met lots of people who helped me as I started to paint and I just learned to make the best of all the experiences that life threw at me. I also realised I needed to stay humble and calm and retain humility.
13) And finally, if we were to fast forward 10 years, where would we find you?
Europe – I want to visit so many countries and discover their cultures.
Learn more about Mario and discover his collection of paintings.