An artist’s heart harks back to Argentina

Antonio Segui seems like the kind of man who has lived life to the fullest. One of Latin America’s most respected artists, he has been living in Paris for the last few decades. He recently came to Greece to attend the opening of a retrospective exhibition dedicated to his work, currently on display at the Frissiras Museum until January 2004. Casually dressed and smiling, Segui prefers talking about his beloved painting rather than politics. Yet he has always carried a political agenda: Forced to flee his native Argentina due to his political beliefs, he traveled to Mexico where he met Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac and, while in France, he drew posters during the May ’68 events. His political stance turned him into persona non grata in Argentina in 1975, followed by an attempt on his life. Temporarily confined to a wheelchair, he carried on painting, participating in exhibitions and collecting works of art. A recurring theme in the artist’s work is the suffocation of people and their cities. «I was born in Cordoba, where you can smell Latin America and understand its substance. Later on I moved to Buenos Aires, a city that is like a missing link with Europe, the kind of mix you find in Rome and Madrid,» says the artist. Now, living in Paris, Segui’s heart travels back to his native Argentina, a country in serious turmoil. «The financial situation is bordering on disaster,» says the artist, who is, nevertheless, backing the country’s new president, Nestor Kirchner. Segui is also in favor of Mercosur, a regional free trade program. «The USA has always put pressure on Argentina. If Carlos Menem were president today, he would have had no objection to sending troops into Iraq; luckily, this will not happen with this president,» he says. At the retrospective, visitors will be able to see how the artist has been influenced by the various artistic movements since the 1970s. «I’m part of the reality of this world,» says Segui. «I’m not living in a glass tower. My sole weapon is not my thinking, but painting and I try to paint as best as I can.» Frissiras Museum, 3 & 7 Monis Asteriou, tel 210.323.4678. To January 8.