Nicolás Bacal


Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1985 


            Nicolás Bacal's journey begins with music. When he was four years old, a neighbor, who lived in the same building, was selling a piano, and his parents thought it was a great deal and bought it, since it only had to be moved one floor. That was how he began to play, and later he would look for alternative ways of training.

            He chose, the Argentine musician, Juan Carlos Mono Fontana as his first teacher. "I consider Mono my art teacher in general," he explains, when he talks about his journey. He travelled to the other side of the city to take classes with him and remembers that adventure as a constituent part of his artistic life. He also studied Electroacoustic Composition at the University of Quilmes, he played in bands, produced records, and composed pieces for artists, but he always felt that something was missing in music, another kind of conversation that would open up new universes, that would touch him in a different way. That is how he gradually began to work on sketches he was making in his notebooks, until he had his first exhibition at the Sendrós gallery, in which two abandoned cassettes that were joined by the slight contact of their tapes and computer keyboards that lost their keys were used to remind us of the obsolescence of objects.

            Nicolás speaks slowly; he takes the time to explain every detail, he pays particular attention to the conversation. "I was always looking for a conversation around music and with musicians, and even though I went looking for it in the strangest places you could imagine, I generally struggled to find it. And then, suddenly, I worked for a couple of visual artists, as a musician, and I found that I was more interested in conversations with these kinds of people. There was something of a tradition of conversation or thought there," he says, in an interview for, the online art program, Crudo. His work, both material and immaterial, address memory and a certain melancholy, through objects that are easy to recognize. An example of this is the voice that announced the time over the telephone in the 1980s in Brazil and is summoned by Bacal to read a poem in the new millennium.   

            Little by little, he moved from the language of music to that of the plastic arts, without leaving aside his original training because tempo continues to accompany him in his creative work. "Studying music was a way of studying time. The first years, I tried to condense everything I had studied as a musician into the pieces I was building. As I came from a strict formation, when I turned to plastic arts, I dared to do whatever I wanted; I did it with irreverence", he explains, in an audiovisual interview that shows his workshop full of blacksmithing and carpentry machines.

            He always had sketches of works that later became a collection of notebooks. While this path was being built, he studied at the Centro de Investigaciones Artísticas (CIA) and at the Universidad Torcuato Di Tella. It was also around that time that he began to practice kung-fu, an Eastern pursuit to balance body and mind.

            He is interested in pieces that can be built quickly and easily, so that when viewers saw what he did, they would know they could also do it at home. "Pieces that radiate closeness," he says, as he takes apart some coins that he later exchanges and reassembles. His pieces have the value of being created with freshness and audacity but with the perseverance of a master. He regards time as the guide of a journey that sets the pace and always encourages him to do more.