This piece was
originally published and is reprinted with the permission of CBC
painter Juan Manuel Sanchez at work:
Manuel Sanchez and Nora Patrich are Argentine painters who live in
Vancouver. Recently my wife Rosemary became suspicious, as I have
been seeing them a lot.
asked me, "Is it Nora?"
is a very attractive 50-year-old woman. Juan is 72 and reminds me
of a paunchy Picasso.
her that she was partly right - I was in love. But I had to add that
I was in love with Juan, who is the brother I never had, the father
I no longer have and, best of all, the friend with whom I can discuss
art at any hour.
too am an Argentine who lives in Vancouver. I have been a magazine
photographer for 28 years, but for much of that time I was unwilling
to think of myself as an artist. That changed gradually, but the change
was not truly complete until I got to know Juan and Nora.
years I had shunned my fellow expatriates in my effort to become Canadian.
Then four years ago, one of my daughters said she was going to get
married some day soon and she expected the first dance with me to
be a tango. I joined an Argentine tango group, where I met Nora and
Juan. Juan was a hopeless dancer and they soon dropped out. I found
a sudden longing for everything Argentine.
later, I had a chance meeting with another Argentine, Linda Lorenzo,
a beautiful woman who I wanted to make the subject of images that
would reflect my interest in exploring my memories of the country
I had left.
Because I now wanted to enjoy the company of Argentines, on a lark
I called Nora and Juan to join me. They were delighted to accept.
We worked together in our studios - they would sketch, I would take
photographs. I soon learned that I had to try some patience with my
instant art. They needed more time to sketch and I couldn't simply
tell the model to move to the next pose.
I learned much more than just patience. Because Juan speaks no English,
my Argentine Spanish came back. So did my appreciation of my heritage.
We indulged in the Argentine habit of sipping a mate while listening
to Piazzolla or old tangos. We exchanged nostalgic tales of rosier
times in Buenos Aires. We went to see Saura's film Goya en Burdeos
twice. We discussed its merits over coffee. I plundered the public
library for books on Goya.
the last few years, at least half of the books I have read are in
Spanish, many lent to me by Juan. When I spotted a Spanish edition
of Louis de Bernieres's Captain Corelli's Mandolin at the UBC bookstore,
I bought it for Juan. He placed a copy of Tomas Mann's La Montaña
Magica in my hand and told me to read it. I am.
I have been working with both Juan and Nora on what we call colaboraciones.
Back in the studio we compare sketches and photographs of our model.
Juan and Nora pick some of my photos or I suggest some. Sections of
some of these photos are then "completed" with Juan or Nora's
it thrilling to sign these colaboraciones right next to Juan and Nora.
Thanks to them, I have the confidence to admit I am an artist.
when I get fussy at home, I am no longer surprised when Rosemary suggests,
"Why don't you go to Juan and Nora's for a mate?"
Note: UBC (University of British Columbia) is the last of the "collaborations"
(colaboraciones) done by the artist Juan Manuel Sánchez and
the photographer Alex Waterhouse-Hayward to mark the arrival of the
To find more about
the artist and photographer or to get in touch with either of them,
please write to email@example.com
to the attention of Marissa Consiglieri de Chackal - Arts Editor.