Aldo Sessa: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became An Artist

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I believe that the most important thing that an artist should never feel is not to be envious of other artists’ work. We have to admire the work of others and to walk one’s own path. In art there is room for everyone.

As a part of our series about “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became An Artist,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Argentine fine art photographer, Aldo Sessa.

Aldo Sessa, is one of the world’s most acclaimed fine art photographers on the international stage, with works currently displayed in collections at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C, NASA’s Lyndon Johnson Space Center in Houston, and at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, among numerous other museums and private collections. Sessa participated in his first group exhibition in 1952, and in 1958 he began working as freelance photographer for La Nación newspaper in Buenos Aires. After studying cinematography in Hollywood, he worked as an illustrator and freelance photographer for La Gaceta newspaper in Tucumán, and he signed his first contract as an artist with the Bonino Gallery in 1972. In 1976 Sessa illustrated Cosmogonies, a book with poems by Jorge Luis Borges, and The Ghosts of Forever with famed American science fiction writer, Ray Bradbury, prior to illustrating Seances and Ghosts. He has since published more than 40 art books, and Sessa’s work has since appeared in over 200 exhibitions worldwide. Sessa was named an Illustrious Citizen of Buenos Aires and a Member of the National Academy of Fine Arts. Aldo has recently partnered with Aston Martin Residences to present an exclusive virtual exhibit entitled “Seances and Ghosts,” that can now be viewed online at the Aston Martin Residences immersive 3D virtual gallery.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I was born in Buenos Aires in 1939. My father was Italian and my mother was Uruguayan. My maternal grandfather was an engineer and founded in 1928 the ALEX Laboratories that processed the films shot in Argentina. My mother knew how to develop and photography was always within my reach. Nevertheless, I started drawing and painting at the age of 12, taking my first steps in the Art Workshop for children founded by Marcelo De Ridder. I also had a great experience accompanying my mother who was dedicated to sculpture in the academy of Lucio Fontana, which connected me with sculptures. Since then, I felt trapped by the art world, and added graphic arts to my repertoire, working in a printing press, and later in a paint factory, then in the film industry in Argentina and Hollywood. At that time, I incorporated photography into my life and in parallel, professionally painting. That is how the Bonino Gallery in Buenos Aires hired me to do my first individual exhibition in the capital. As a consequence, in the same year I opened an exhibition at the Bonino Gallery in Rio de Janeiro and later another solo show at the Bonino Gallery in New York. This was followed by countless solo exhibitions in my country and abroad.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

To alternate the solitude in which a painter works, I began to reconnect with the outside world with a camera. That combination relieved me and the dynamics of photography attracted me and allowed me to enter a new world full of images.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

In 1976 I painted a triptych of 6.00 x 2.00 mts. which was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in Buenos Aires, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Argentina asked me if I could donate it as an official gift to the United States of America for its Bicentennial. Since then, it has been part of the collection of the Lyndon Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

At this moment, I have finished my second book about New York City, in which I have been working for the last 10 years. This year I have also finished a book entitled “Cosmogonías, visiones de una creación infinita,” with my paintings and drawings illustrating texts and poems about Space by Jorge Luis Borges.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

In general, I have had a special relationship with writers. I want to highlight the deep friendship with the great American writer Ray Bradbury with whom I did two books, the first one entitled The Ghosts of Forever (Rizzoli International. NY 1980) and the other one, entitled Seances and Ghosts. 2000. I also enjoyed illustrating several books with Manuel Mujica Láinez, others with Silvina Bullrich and Silvina Ocampo. Finally, another great pleasure of my life was to meet the Master of Tango, Enrique Cadícamo with whom we made the book entitled ‘Tango.’ This great poet wrote me the tango Fotógrafo de Plaza, which he generously dedicated to me.

Where do you draw inspiration from? Can you share a story about that?

Basically, when I walk around with my camera, I am inspired by what catches my eye.
Instead, in-studio shots with artificial light, I try to capture the “soul” of the people I portray. In other cases, when traveling around the world, I’m on the lookout for a very original photograph of the icons that attract thousands of voracious tourists.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Trying to maintain an artistic and original image, without speculating with tremendous and/or tasteless photographs.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

Kindly the truth is: nothing. I always did what I thought I had to do. I never felt the lack of help in that regard.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I believe that the most important thing that an artist should never feel is not to be envious of other artists’ work. We have to admire the work of others and to walk one’s own path.

In art there is room for everyone.

We have been blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she just might see this.

Yes, I would like to have lunch with Lionel Messi — a great sportsman and a great person.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

My Instagram handle is @aldo_sessa

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Aldo Sessa: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became An Artist was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.