Dory Perdomo, the simplicity of a woman and the complexity of her art

By César Rincón
Dory Perdomo is a visual artist and Colombian-Mexican chemical engineer who has been forged with tenacity. Living with her family in Mazatlán and with a nearly thirty-year career in the art world, Maestra Perdomo has defined a singular style that characterizes her abstract art, which has been exhibited and praised in over twenty countries.

I learned of her work years ago, in an important exhibition for Day of the Dead in the Frida Kahlo gallery in Culiacán, México. Her piece strongly called out to me with its textures and colors; there began my desire to know more about her work and life. That is why we have contacted her from Colombia for this interview.

Who is Dory Perdomo?
A.- I consider myself a simple woman, a lover of nature, of motherhood, of life at home and as a family. I enjoy my work as an entrepreneur and artist. Blessed by life, I left my home country of Colombia at 21 years old, married Jesús A. Becerra, Mexican, with a small daughter and many dreams of being happy. I have accomplished every one of my goals: I have four marvelous children, each of whom is perfect in their imperfection, loving and owner of their own dreams. I studied with Vicentian nuns from nine years of age to eighteen and began my first artistic endeavors with them as part of the educational program of the school. I enrolled in university in Quindio where I studied chemical engineering and at the same time continued studying diverse art techniques that the same Vicentian community offered to university students.
For 34 years outside my country I have cultivated a life through art; I’ve always had a space in my daily routine to create, read or grow by observing the works of other artists. At this moment my personal project has become reality through the creation of an art gallery that was born seven years ago in Mazatlán, Sinaloa, México. Bauprés Gallery and the Bauprés Collective, which started with the participation of five members. Two of my maestros have become founders, advisers and curators of this dream: Maestro Sergio Flores and Maestra Lucila Santiago. Visual artist Rafael Ávila and documentary photographer Salvador Herrera were also honorary members of this collective, as is the entire community of Mazatlecos and Americans who have contributed to the growth of what is today the Bauprés Cultural Center.
Work of Dory Perdomo

Tell us briefly where you were born, your parents, your childhood, where you studied, your profession and family.
A.- I was born near Florencia, Caquetá, Colombia. My father’s name was Jorge Enrique Perdomo and my mother is Graciela Medina. Both of them are originally from that area. My mother was widowed very young, when she was pregnant and with four young children. I was the oldest at five years old. For that reason, we went to Florencia to live with my maternal grandparents, and months later to a small house in the same city that my father had owned. My childhood took place among games with my younger siblings, the little help a child of my young age could give her mother in taking care of the kids, and trips to my grandpa’s farm on the weekends—grandpa who played the role of father, protector and provider for a long time, until my adulthood and my departure for Mexico, he was my sweetest memory.

The eternal question that we can’t avoid: is a painter born or bred?
A.- I believe a painter can be bred via technical training, with the research and discipline required by this trade; with practice one can learn a lot about diverse artistic techniques. It can cost a lot, even if it is not your vocation and for some reason you decide to abandon the trade as a way of making a living. However, an artist creator must have other sensibilities: the necessity to transform the world in which she lives, to always be wondered by beauty, in tiny things as well as in infinitely immense and perfect things like the universe, for example. Art should be dedicated to creation and to nature. Borges said that the future is a garden with paths that fork. That is the intuition that all of us have, that at many points of our life we arrive at a fork where we can choose one way or another; we reflect and then opt for a road in a rational manner.

I chose art naturally, out of conviction, to evoke that grand sensation of life. Artistic creation overcomes the empty existential feeling provoke by wasted time. Exercising my creativity has provided me an emotional anchor that has liberated me from fear in life, from loneliness, even from fear of death.

Work of Dory Perdomo
What motivated you to become a visual artist? 
A.- I left the comfort zone of my family very young. My mother is a strong, brave woman, a provider and protector by nature. When I first left my country, I felt terrified and I felt the need to fill my orphaned reality with a dream, to know the works of great artists and, why not, to be an artist someday. However, my mother always discounted artists; for that reason, I studied engineering. Despite this, my grandfather one day told me: “The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous, and the storm is terrible. But that does not prevent them from going to sea.” It is good to love an ideal and make it your life project, something that keeps you alive, that allows you to meditate and know your interior, where your soul rests; therein lies true strength. The one who loves a lot performs many things and feels capable; what is done for love is well done. Since that time, I have pursued my dream and converted it into my life project.

What creative process is most important to you? 
A.- For me the creative process is more important, perhaps, than the work itself; it is the trigger for our creativity, which allows us to travel within and project our emotions, involve ourselves, show what hurts us, what bothers us, our memories. The creative process allows us to approach the creation of our work from our different emotions of sadness, joy, love ... it is a theoretical-practical and research process that cannot be ignored, because it can affect the final result of our work. You cannot create or transform something without going through a process of recognition, and this is only achieved through experimentation, both from a conceptual and technical point of view. I think that the lack of this creative and introspection process is what cause there to be so many pieces that are said to be art but that have no soul. Rather, they are just products made for a consumerist world without processes.

Work of Dory Perdomo
When did you start and when did you realize that being an artista (painter) and cultural promoter was your vocation?
A.- When I was very young, I fell in love with painting. I never imagined it would be so important and fill my life the way it has. I always searched for spaces dedicated to art, wherever I went, and I took every workshop I could while I raised my family. Eight years ago I began my personal project; I founded my own art gallery and collective, Bauprés. I saw the great necessity artists have to exhibit, promote and sell their work, and the lack of spaces and opportunities for many artists who don’t have the resources to show their work. So I proposed a change in the flow of the gallery in order to be able to show different artists. That’s how the Bauprés Cultural Center was born, a space for creation, diffusion, exhibition and sales of art.

Do you remember your first painting? 
A.- A lake with a small house, a French landscape

Work of Dory Perdomo
A famous painter who inspired you? 
A.- Mainly the life and work of Vincent Van Gogh

You perform several roles at the same time. You are a cultural promoter, a painter, a community organizer. How have you been able to balance your dedication to these various activities?
A.- I have the fortune to count on the support and collaboration of many strategic alliances that help me with my personal project, the Cultural Center, as well as with my business and my family, so that all are vibrant. I believe in teamwork, and divide my time and energy between everything depending on the necessity of each one.

Tell us about your community organizing. What barriers and satisfactions have you encountered with that labor?
A.- The main barrier to cultural promotion in México and, I believe, in the world, is the economic: there are insufficient resources for art and culture, and we artists are one of the most socially abandoned groups. The greatest satisfaction is to be able to realize people’s dreams; my greatest reward is also realizing my dream through them.

Which achievements are most important to you as a cultural promoter?
A.- One of my most important objectives was to position Bauprés Gallery as a benchmark for art in Mazatlán, México and internationally within five years, and to be a gallery for everyone. I believe we have achieved trust and quality in our work.

Work of Dory Perdomo
What is most important for us to highlight in your work as an artist?
To me the most important is that through art I have been able to realize my life’s work. I feel full and eager to return a bit of how much I have received from my teachers and all the artists I have met in these 28 years of my artistic career.

What does it mean for you to be a painter? 
A.- Art is my center; it has permitted me to fulfill myself as a person, a professional and as a mother: each one of my children has art as a tool to develop in their lives. Mi creative process and engineering career have gone hand in hand, allowing me to easily experiment with different unconventional materials. The thematic axis and simplification of my technique resulted from experimentation and investigation of the useful life of materials and their purpose.

What has been your most memorable pictorial work and why?
A.- The first piece I made with recycled fiberglass. When I found it it resembled a whale, very beautiful. It measured almost 200 centimeters, and I kept it for nearly five years for fear of working on it and damaging it.

Is there a relationship between your life and your art and the social and cultural promotion you do, perhaps a particular anecdote you could share?
A.- My relationship with art and cultural promotion completes me. I have received love and generosity, and I have reciprocated it, with each and every artist that has participated in residencies, exchanges and the diverse activities of the gallery. The circle of friends that one makes through art is most definitely worth the trouble.

Work of Dory Perdomo
What role does your family play in your artistic life?
A.- Family is the backbone for any artist, especially if you are a woman. If the family doesn’t fall in love with your dreams and support you, it becomes a disaster almost impossible to fix.

You are an artist in every sense of the word. Is it easy to live from art in México?
A.- I don’t believe it’s very difficult to be an artist in México. You must have your own resources in order to help your career develop. There is no support and for those that do exist they are very difficult to obtain.

You have an abstract style that is very particular in your work. Would you please tell us more about it? 
A.- I have made my work with pieces of recycled fiberglass from fallen ships. These pieces have the marvelous print of time, almost impossible to copy. Each piece has its own esthetic discourse. I intervene in restoring the materials as they speak to me. Each piece is different, unique. Almost every piece I’ve worked on with oil and restored the fiberglass.

Work of Dory Perdomo
Is there some event that has marked your life?
A.- My life has been divided into two parts: one prior to leaving Colombia and the other my life in Mexico. Despite having the blessing of a large loving family of in-laws here, I have never felt complete; I miss my family and country.

You are a great artist who has traveled a lot and lived in several countries. What limitations and advantages would you cite for artistic activities in México? 
A.- Art in Mexico has a great history of grand creative artists; there is so much talent here. Even handicrafts are often works of art. Limitations include the lack of governmental resources for artists; society doesn’t consume art and does not want to pay for it; the market is very elitist, so there are a lack of opportunities for quality art.

What project are you working on in the short term?
A.- To consolidate a virtual sales platform for art, and promote international alliances to help more and more artists exhibit their work. To work more in the área of cultural promotion and improve the quality of art and the opportunities of the use of public spaces for artists.

What advice would you give someone who wants to leave their profession and dedícate themselves to the world of art?
A.- I think art is a difficult road when we want to live from it. You have to work hard and invest in it. As my grandfather said, “You have to make good money, to put it after the bad.” For me I’ve never had the slightest doubt that the end is noble and it gives us many satisfactions, one of the primary of which is the ability to transmit our knowledge and get paid.

Anything else you’d like to add?
A.- Thank you, Maestro. It is a pleasure to talk about art. Blessings.

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