Known as an art patron of the highest caliber, she has also contributed to the recognition of emerging artists through her collaborations with world-class museums and galleries. Her presence in these art circles has a very focused purpose: to bring greater visibility to the art and artists from Latin America and their placement in museum collections, galleries and art fairs, alongside masterworks of the 20th and 21st centuries. “First we have to know who we are, support our art and then others will respect and admire it as well, as have done the Brazilians who lead the way in this field,” says Solita.
Her collection includes established, mid-career and emerging Latin American artists from every part of this vast region, from Mexico to Argentina, but she also looks at art history to find those who have, at times, been neglected by the establishment after leaving behind a legacy of valuable contributions to art, like Brazilian master Anna Maria Maiolino. Her keen insight of the Latin American art scene has given birth to an impressive amalgamation of the most significant names of several generations of artists. She has reunited a group of artists that speak in different formal languages and media (painting, sculpture, photography, installation, video and performance art).
Some of themes highlighted in the collection are: man’s relationship with his environment as represented in the work of Kuitca (Argentina) and Ivan do Espírito Santo (Brazil). Memory, removed from nostalgia and as a witness of who we are, what we’ve done and where we are going (Iñaki Bonillas, Mexico; Daniel Senise, Brazil; Mateo López, Colombia; Carlos Rojas, Colombia) is perhaps the soul and the inspiration of this collection, which also addresses issues of identity as a vehicle to understanding herself and her roots. She has developed her own argument with an epic perspective and from there, a voice that is clear, unique and on point. “Knowing and understanding one’s origins is fundamental to developing our intellectual richness, our projection and success.”
Sitting in her beautiful dinning room overlooking the Atlantic, Solita remembers how she had to alter the design of the residence to accommodate large-scale paintings and sculptures. At first the architect had reservations about the proposed structural changes, but she persisted: “My artwork comes first,” she said.“Either the artwork is correctly displayed, or I do not enter the apartment.” A compromise was reached, and new floating walls were built to display the monumental pieces. The result is a very livable apartment, not a museum, where the collection’s treasures are evident at first sight. Visitors can also discover new secrets with every move, behind every corner, in every room, even the outdoor terrace.
Solita’s efforts today are concentrated on the establishment of her foundation, Misol, which made its debut by the end of 2013. Misol is based in Bogota, Colombia with the mission of helping the development, diffusion and recognition of Latin American art around the world. It has created awards and scholarships for emerging artists, curators and book publishers, a much-needed contribution to a market that lacks this kind of infrastructure.
The joy of living with original artworks and documents is of course a blessing, but this collector’s commitment to the recognition of Latin American art and the issues and needs that affect the continent are indeed the most relevant facet in the life of Solita Cohen. ■