Investing in the future

Conversation with Silvia Elena Fortun

/ 1 September, 2018

What’s natural is that a face seen for a moment 20 years ago would disappear, but some are special, like that of Silvia Elena Fortun, and they remain in our memory; I had the luck of reencountering her frank and clean smile, waiting for me at the door of her beautiful house in Coral Gables, which treasures her interesting and valuable collection of modern art. She humbly asks me: Do you think my collection is so good? (…).

Her taste and refinement are expressed there in a harmonious whole, through the general decoration, furniture, details, and of course artworks, that correspond to a selection, which Silvia herself explains, she prefers to base on the direct ties with the painters: “… or based on acquisitions from someone one knows,” Silvia underlines, “one can live and be kept company. It is clear, it is certified by the famous New York art dealer Marianne Boesky, when she says I good purchase is always something with which you want to live.”

More than an interview, what we had was a pleasant conversation: “I was telling you about establishing relations with artists. When I landed in Madrid, coming from Cuba, at the age of 10, a sculptor of the talent (…) of Tomás Oliva immediately appeared at my side,” Silvia recalls. “His wife Xiomara and he asked me to help their son Alejandro with mathematics, and that put us into daily contact. Since I was a child, Oliva initiated me in art appreciation. When I married his gift was this small jewel,” and she points to an aquatint on the wall (…) On the stairway I have a sculpture by Oliva which I consider the center of my collection.”

Later, when she was 15, Silvia moved to Miami and she finally finished her studies in the Florida International University (FIU), graduating in mathematics and computer engineering.

“It was there, in elective courses, that I was able to perfect my knowledge of Afro-Cuban culture and our history of art” -says Silvia, (…) “those informal classes also motivated me to purchase a work for the first time, and I decided to go for the highest, for a Lam, but my resources at the time only were enough for a lithograph of the maestro”.

“I started going to exhibitions and soon became aware that what most interested me was to understand the work and its meaning, wishing to increase my vision of the world,” Silvia underlines. She (…) has never had art as an economic investment (…).

“I already had a Bedia, but I didn’t know the author, the Bedias you see now came later; when I met him, who with patience knew how to reel of what he was trying to communicate, letting me take a peek of his universe,” notes Silvia, whose collection consists of the national, on the one hand of the avant-garde: Lam, Portocarrero, Mariano, Cundo, Sosabravo, Amelia, etc., and on the other of current figures: Torres Llorca, Fabelo, Mendive, Esson, Carlos Estévez, etc., but at times, when establishing relations, she goes beyond borders.

(…) In each room or corner of the house (…) one or two works dominate over the others, except for the terrace disputed only by a small nude fat woman on a horse by Botero and the sharks by José Franco. It’s not just a question of size, because although they are large format, what makes the piece by Gina Pellón reign in the living room is her subtle and mystical personality, this time over and above her usual aesthetics, although it can be said that there is a strong confrontation with Mendive’s irregular sculpt-paintings and Sosabravo’s Murano glass. In the dining room, (…) I am fascinated by a small drawing by Rufino Tamayo, in front of the table, from which a Fabelo painting featuring a pot presides as an artistic-culinary point of view. Meanwhile, the kitchen is the exclusive place for a “pre-Columbian” sculpture of a Mickey Mouse, by Colombian Nadin Ospina; in the family room, a white cloth arranged on the wall contains three techniques by Bedia, painting, drawing and a sculpture, from his series of battleships. We could continue, but I end the tour in her bedroom, dominated by the sensuality of the Servando Cabrera paintings. (…)

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