Drawings (Mascarons)

Mascaron — a word that literally means "big mask" — is the architectural term for an ornamental face peering from the façade of a building. These faces are usually, although not always, human, Sometimes, they can be grotesque and frightening, meant to scare away evil spirits.

On a trip to Buenos Aires in the summer of 2019, I began photographing the many caryatids around the city. I even made a pilgrimage to Calle Victoria 1974, where there is a plaque to the poet, Ramón Gómez de la Serna, who, upon his death, wanted all the caryatids in Buenos Aires to cry for him. As Blaise and I walked throughout the city, I began to feel like I was being watched. Looking up, we saw the faces of women looking down at us.

We also met up with our friend, Sergio Kiernan, a journalist and architectural historian. He presented me with a copy of his book, Las máscaras de Buenos Aires, an exquisite document published by the city's Commission for the Preservation of Historical and Cultural Patrimony. Sergio's research was especially focused on the faces of these women, many of whose visages were based upon real people — often the wives and daughters of the architects and builders.

Rather than scaring us away, these mascarons seem to be protect us, like a mother hen hovering over her chicks. During the COVID pandemic shut down, I found myself drawn to, and drawing, these protective figures, relying on a totally unexpected type of mask.

Mascaron

Mascaron

Entre Rios 1521, Buenos Aires, Argentina - original drawings: charcoal on rag paper; 14" x 17" - prints: inkjet and charcoal on rag paper; 14" x 17"; 2020-21

Mascaron

Mascaron

Alisana 2540, Buenos Aires, Argentina - original drawings: charcoal on rag paper; 14" x 17" - prints: inkjet and charcoal on rag paper; 14" x 17"; 2020-21

Mascaron

Mascaron

Garay 3231, Buenos Aires, Argentina - original drawings: charcoal on rag paper; 14" x 17" - prints: inkjet and charcoal on rag paper; 14" x 17"; 2020-21

Mascaron

Mascaron

Salta 572, Buenos Aires, Argentina - original drawings: charcoal on rag paper; 14" x 17" - prints: inkjet and charcoal on rag paper; 14" x 17"; 2020-21

Mascaron

Mascaron

Billinghurst 1741, Buenos Aires, Argentina - original drawings: charcoal on rag paper; 14" x 17" - prints: inkjet and charcoal on rag paper; 14" x 17"; 2020-21

Mascaron

Mascaron

Defensa 1024, Buenos Aires, Argentina - original drawings: charcoal on rag paper; 14" x 17" - prints: inkjet and charcoal on rag paper; 14" x 17"; 2020-21

Mascaron

Mascaron

Anselmo Aieta 1089, Buenos Aires, Argentina - original drawings: charcoal on rag paper; 14" x 17" - prints: inkjet and charcoal on rag paper; 14" x 17"; 2020-21

Mascaron

Mascaron

San Luis 2948, Buenos Aires, Argentina - original drawings: charcoal on rag paper; 14" x 17" - prints: inkjet and charcoal on rag paper; 14" x 17"; 2020-21

Mascaron

Mascaron

Pasco 695, Buenos Aires, Argentina - original drawings: charcoal on rag paper; 14" x 17" - prints: inkjet and charcoal on rag paper; 14" x 17"; 2020-21

Mascaron

Mascaron

Combate de los Pozos 1590, Buenos Aires, Argentina - original drawings: charcoal on rag paper; 14" x 17" - prints: inkjet and charcoal on rag paper; 14" x 17"; 2020-21

Mascaron

Mascaron

Cabrera 3899 Buenos Aires, Argentina - original drawings: charcoal on rag paper; 14" x 17" - prints: inkjet and charcoal on rag paper; 14" x 17"; 2020-21

Mascaron

Mascaron

Liniers 1846, Buenos Aires, Argentina - original drawings: charcoal on rag paper; 14" x 17" - prints: inkjet and charcoal on rag paper; 14" x 17"; 2020-21

All artwork on this site © Virginia Maksymowicz.

Most photographs are by Blaise Tobia or Virginia Maksymowicz

other photos are credited.

Some works are collaborative.

Some permissions for use and distribution

available through a Creative Commons License

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