Taking Renaissance art as his inspiration, and the Republic of Argentina as his model, world-renown silversmith Mariano Draghi is reinventing the trade. He invited us into his workshop to share his values and motivations, and to explain why he is changing the essence of gaucho silverware.
By Carolina Beresford
Your father was a true innovator; he was the first to pursue this trade professionally in Argentina.
Yes, my father started the profession himself. His family had no direct connection to art, but he had an artistic side. Areco played a huge role as well – he always said that he became a silversmith because he was born in Areco. It’s a town that never turned its back on its history; gauchos proudly displayed their silverware in local festivals around town, so my father had the chance to admire specific pieces. Areco influenced him greatly, and pushed him to become a silversmith.
Your style is notably different from the style your father pioneered in the sixties… What are you trying to achieve?
I try to be innovative; I prefer not to use the classical ornamentation that is commonly used. Typical gaucho silverware has a few simple ornamentations; continuing with that style would be like having a Ferrari and driving with the handbrake on! I want to be an artist and leave a different kind of testimony.
You certainly are reinventing the trade. Was there something particular in your formation that drew you to this kind of approach?
I trained in the workshop from the age of nine, and I was a hard worker. My family worked to put the bread on the table. When you work out of necessity you make a huge effort, and that really marks you. I no longer have that necessity. Metal is hard, and if you don’t do it for money you have to find other motivations.
What are those motivations for you?
Transmitting universal values through my works. What’s important is not the object itself, it must act as a vehicle. It’s not made for one specific person, but for everyone to see.
What is your goal?
My goal is to give my work a purpose, that it go beyond the commercial. For an artist the difficulty lies in loving what you do and making sure that the work has a function that transcends us.
Part of your formal training was completed in Florence. What made you return to Argentina?
I love Italy, but if I lived there I would just be part of the crowd – perhaps I would not have found the motivation to work that I have found being here. My role has an added value here; it is necessary to leave a record of what is happening in Argentina.
What do you like most about Argentina?
The landscapes of the North. I like that they’re not contaminated. You can suddenly find yourself alone in the middle of nowhere. That’s hard to find in the world, especially in Europe. There’s so much urbanization, and for those of us who like to connect with ourselves, it takes away our essence, our privacy. It inhibits the abstraction that you can only find when you’re alone. I felt that when I went to the North, especially in Salta; there you meet the universe. That’s what I love about Argentina.
Find out more on Mariano Draghi > www.draghiplaterosorfebres.com