translated from Spanish: Arturo Hevia, the sculptor behind the memorials to Allende and Merino: “Everyone has the right to have a statue”

One morning in early 2000 Arturo Hevia was working in his Studio next to his house. The last five years had been pretty busy, after finishing the statue of the former President Eduardo Frei Montalva, had embarked on the project of the monument to Salvador Allende. I was just working on the clay model when the phone rang. He replied, still reddish fingers.
-Talk you through the Secretary of the President Frei – say from the other side of the handset. The President wants to inaugurate the monument of Salvador Allende before the end of the mandate.
“Impossible” was the first thing that he thought Hevia. They had called him in February, and the change of command was the next month. But had more personal reasons to tell you no. “The monument to Frei became in just nine months, because the Frei Foundation was constantly on top of mine – remember Hevia-. Much was the younger brother of Frei, but Eduardo never came to the workshop. And then opened in the ´96 with a speech of the President in the Plaza of the Constitution, which did not mention at any time the monument even I mentioned to me! not even greeted me! “.”

-No, actually it cannot be, because it is not ready – replied the sculptor.
-No, it’s that the President wants to inaugurate it, so you have to pay overtime to leave the monument – insisted his interlocutor.
-Look, the Foundry is a very complex process, if it becomes a mistake someone for doing so fast I can cost you dear. An error is very serious.
-No, you have to do it, I’m going to demand to terminate it, show me your contract!
Upon hearing that, Hevia was made a minute’s silence, as satisfaction, and replied calmly:-look, in fact, the Allende Foundation has so much confidence in me, that I have not even signed a contract. See you later.
The artist Luis Arturo Hevia Salazar (Santiago, 1952) lies 20 years ago in Hill, in a House almost at the top of the cerro La Campana. There, with a privileged view and ample space, it works until today in its statues. Entering your property, the first thing you see is a row of busts. Models on the basis of which made some of his best known works, such as the effigy of Jorge Montt (whose final version is in the Gallery of the Presidents in La Moneda), Jaime Guzmán (currently in the Plaza of the Angels), Arthur and Claudio Arrau (Chillán) Merino Benítez, among others. Ironically, the busts of Salvador Allende and the Admiral José Toribio Merino are located together. “Last time was more fun because it was Guzman, Allende and Merino together”, account Hevia.

The sculptor through the courtyard of his house leaning on a cane. Steep your neighborhood happened to account not long ago: a fall left him with orthopedic boot. In the living room of his home, stored some of his latest work, “naked knots”. It tries to sculptures that seen from a certain angle look like knots, but on the other they resemble naked women. His workshop is back. There banking tools, mannequins, wood sculptures and, of course, models of other works, like the statue of Juan Pablo II in the Central House of the Catholic University, and the original design which had been made for the monument to Salvador Allende. “And think that I started making clay sculptures,” recalls today.
His early artistic vocation was that at age 9 his mother out it in a workshop taught by the renowned sculptor Tótila Albert. At age 13, Hevia decided to enter the Naval Academy, but was only three months. “I grew up life in the field, I was independent. “The uniform was nice and all, but I liked the freedom”, says Hevia.
Lived much of his childhood in Rinconada de Maipu, due to the work of his father, an agronomist. Then came a major in agronomy at the University of Chile. After one semester, ended by switching to art at the Catholic University. He finished the race in four years, shortly after the military coup.
As a result of the latter, the University fired several academics, including sculptor Mario Irarrázaval, who was replaced by Hevia. What allowed him to be teaching at only 22 years old. In between, he completed a master’s degree at the University of La Sorbonne. “I lost my time making classes, because I stopped making sculptures, until I participated in a contest to make the fireman of Magallanes in the ´89. I won it, that was my first public statue. “The founder saw that he had skills, and the busts that charge you to casting sent them I do to me”, recalls the artist, who since then has about 60 public sculptures to his credit.

Between the extremes “I grew up in the countryside, in nature. I know what is natural selection. Which has greater capabilities is that survives. You can have good heart, support the weak, but the question does not work as well. Because in the long run, if you do not follow the channels of the market all Craps. And good intentions are not good for nothing,”says Hevia when I consult him for his political beliefs.
Although no longer classes at his alma mater, five of his students followed him to his house and workshop, where he teaches every Thursday a sculpture workshop.  One of them, exile, says that Queen camaraderie and good vibes in classes, but trying to avoid talking about politics.
-Why do they selected you to make the statue of Allende?
-I even participated. Following a first call, declared desert the contest. And then, I was doing the statue of Frei, and called me to ask me to participate of the Salvador Allende Foundation. Happens when the call, sculptors, became all are from left, (except one or two) wanted to do something abstract. The Foundation wanted to be to recognize the image of the President. But they wanted to do something as the monument to general Schneider who is at Kennedy. And I said but weon! you will get 10 years after a worker with his son and you will say “this is the monument President Allende” what it will mean to that child? you won’t understand anything! you will think that the President was a terrible fornicator, because they made him a monument to the phallus. Well, the contest was made, and I empaté the first place with Ricardo Meza. I had originally put down workers and a family, something like what I did with Frei. But we found and the people of the Foundation told me “look, is super good, but slightly abstracted the character”.
HEVIA today reviewed the various technical problems faced for the monument. “The Isabel (Allende) said it wanted to place it against Morandé 80.” I said how can you put it there? you will be punished, it will be against the wall, there is no space! I suggested currency with Morandé. It couldn’t be, because it was the underground ventilation. And I told him ‘I put you in ventilation’ “.” Originally, there was a monolith that acted as ventilation of offices. Function that went on to replace the statue. Reason why the interior of the pedestal is hollow, and the two plates (where read the name and a fragment of the last speech of Salvador Allende) slightly separated from the surface, to expel the air.
-There was a whole possibilities behind the monument. But the romantic part that you had thought – lost explains Hevia-. I thought the monument as a tribute to my father, radical and mason. He taught me to be tolerant. I thought, Allende is dead, but he is a martyr. Where you live Allende? in the memory of the people. And it will be against the currency. Then, the people moved to La Moneda, raising a flag. So that, in the original design, to one side of the pedestal are the workers, and on the other there is a family. Both hold a flag mast. And in the flag, in his imagination, the image of the President that they saw crystallizes. And that’s that it comes wrapped in the flag waving, taking the image of Balmaceda, who is also a martyr. And it is not very noticeable, but there is still a mast that down the side on the flag.
-Being you closest to the right never was a conflict make a monument to Allende?
-Why? If we are all entitled to have a way of thinking. In my family there are all kinds of thinking. Not because my sister is left I’m going to kill. And I respect her, she’s got different ideas to the mine. Who knows if I have all the truth or she has all the truth, it is probably a mixture of the two. And Allende is part of a Chilean historical process. What we are today is partly because of the good and bad that Salvador Allende did. The past is gone, and we need to build something to forward what is the point of removing the category of illustrious daughter Lucía Hiriart in Santiago? what you win with that? nothing!
-There are those who argue that it is a matter of memory.
-It is that it won’t erase what was done. That already was, already did. And I think that nobody remembers it is illustrious daughter. Let us waste no time in tonteras, build pa´ forward. And Allende is part of that history. He did what he did because of evil. He thought that he was doing well. He had no idea of economy. But he believed that he was doing well. And not that is the reason why you’re going to get out of its location. He was wrong. He was a great man, but also great men are wrong.
-Always say that Chile is a country of left, and that 99% of culture and the arts left monopolizes it that has never been a problem for you? not have doors closed you?
-Yes, but it gives me mani. Because I know what I’m doing. At the University, in fact, there were problems until I left, in 2011, because I was one of the few who had a different view. Then of course, “made me the bed”, but I know the qu(e) I am. Then I came here, where I still doing my sculptures. And my students I followed here. Today there is one that is exposing in Ushuaia, which then will go to Europe, for example; There is another that has a casa-galeria, and as well. Then, if you want stirred in the shit, beyond them. They remain in their poverty. There is a great spiritual poverty. But there are people who are not so, as the José Balmes, who rests in peace. I understand the bitterness. I think that if I had killed my parents, I would like a knife stuck in the chest. But not that I am going to agree with what they produce from its bitterness.
-After opening the statue of Allende, you said that you would also be able to make a monument to Pinochet. And in 2002, she opened the statue Admiral José Toribio Merino. There are people who described it as “mercenary of the sculptures” by that thought.
-Yes, Yes, put me out there, but it is what you said, it is part of history. And there are Chileans who continue to believe that Pinochet was a great President. Why they won’t have the right to have a monument? Thanks to him, or him unfortunately, Chile is thus. I believe that much of what is now Chile is because Pinochet realized that he was not very intelligent, and called people that if it was to reorganize the economy, because Allende was commissioned to destroy it. If it had not been destroyed, had been able to be what was done. As in Germany and Japan after the war. Are all the subject of Divine Providence that they to make things work. My vision as a sculptor is to try to interpret a character at the time acting in the society. I am a witness of history, and I have to keep me in that sense. I can do a monument to Merino, Pinochet, Allende, and I will do everything possible because he is as faithful as possible to the situation that had him live.
– But you did a statue of Pinochet, correct?
-What happens is that commissioned by Harold Crow, a millionaire Texan came to me. It has a garden called “the secret garden”, where he collects replicas of monuments of dictators around the world. It has a replica of Stalin, Fidel Castro, and Ceausescu. Moreover, for the war in Iraq, people sent to the Middle East to bring statues of Sadam Hussein at that level is! It is like a Rául Schüler, but if you pay so you have haha. Well, contacted me Tie Sosnowski, an employee of Crow in charge of getting the statues. The dilemma is as follows: as requirement had to be a replica of an existing. And as there was a statue of Pinochet, Sosnowski contacted Pinochet’s son, Marco Antonio, and offered a copy to install in Los Boldos. So that the custom was two-fold. And I did a mock-up of a meter that I sent to a foundry in Orlando. There they expanded it to three meters, a result details were lost, and asked me to travel to the United States to fix it. The problem is that they had paid me anything, I told them that this did not free, to finally pay me the trip. Finally, after several fights, the trip was nothing. And I lost the track to that model. I don’t know if someone else came her to perform. Perhaps it is the statue in the secret garden, or Los Boldos. This must have been between 2006-2011.
-At this moment there is a project in Congress to remove the statue of Merino of the Naval Museum. If you get to realize, you would think what?
-I believe that it is not. Because as they try to get to Merino, José Antonio Kast wants to remove Allende. So I’m on both sides. And Merino made what had to do as the subject of the story. If it is part of the story. We don’t try to delete it, if the history it will not change. It already was. We look for the forward. Let us not lose time looking back. If there are people who respect it and want it. We all have right to think how we think and all have the right to have a sculpture.
Lifting the cross still active, there are several projects that keep busy the veteran sculptor. One of them, for the region of Magallanes, is the monument to the Piloto Pardo, who led the rescue of the survivors of the British Brig Endurance in the Antarctic. Another uniformed occurring in its list of outstanding is the sailor Fuentealba, who died in heroic form saving his companions during the sinking of the Janequeo in 1965. “I think that that one has to bear in mind are those small heroes. We can not put in all the communes a Prat and an O´Higgins. There are many local heroes who are examples. All can be heroes in our space, and we must have that example.”
These days, Hevia name has returned to the public arena after the inauguration monument to Lord Cochrane in Alameda with army, event that counted with the presence of the Princess Ana de Inglaterra.
-The statue of Lord Cochrane was inspired by his counterpart from Valparaiso, what are the differences between one and another?
-It is the starting point. I said, I am not going to make a copy, but a version inspired by the monument of Valparaiso. We went to see her and I said “there are three things that I don’t like”. One that has a hand back, is not of an Admiral who was able to take the forts of Valparaiso and Callao. A man accustomed to wielding the sword don’t walk with your hand up, but closed. Second, seeing all the paintings of Cochrane, it is combed forward, at that time all is well combed. And Valparaiso comes with the hair combed back. The other is that that has no pupils. It has very large eyes because they are white. And I I said, I will give you life, I feel the character. Then, I changed hair, hand, put pupils and gave him my vision of the character. I think it is what you do always as a sculptor. Basically, I am a journalist of history. I try to represent the best that I can the character at a certain juncture.
-What about that it has been housed in an abandoned pedestal, where before was José Miguel Carrera? How about this sort of “recycling heritage”?
-I didn’t have nothing to do with that part. I did see the inconveniences of this site. In fact I did a drawing of how it should go, I suggested removing a pedestal torreja, splitting it in half and leave it as backup. As Balmaceda with the Obelisk back, because this statue is not. It is an Ant up this huge pedestal. But apparently there was a problem of costs.
-You mentioned Raúl Schüler have thought when the news?
-I thought that there could be one of the sculptures that I stole. 2 years ago I did an exhibition in a mall, at the gates of Chicureo, on my bare knots. And stole me a sculpture of 1.8 billion pesos. I have the video, and the patent of the car that took him to the direction of the car! Take this material in October to the Commissioner. I dealt with had enough, and in July the other year call me and tell me “it is likely that in any of the raids we do we recognize his…”.
-Do you think, what moves a businessman to stealing statues? because he could perfectly instruct to do them.
-It is a fresco by raja. A guy who has so much power that he feels untouchable and that can pass above the people, of the rules of the society. Because it is stealing public works, which are all. It feels so powerful that it Craps on others, that says “rob them, put them in my house, and they will not give neither account”. I.e. a type so obviously does not have morals. It is an amoral, nor it is known. What level of confidence you will be that it lent the House so that take you some pictures.
-They striped the statue of Rebeca Matte front of the Museum of fine arts of be restored tomorrow, do you think that in Chile we are a must in terms of public sculptures, in protecting this heritage?
-I think Yes. But rather than he must protect, I think that educate. Because there is a troop of unhappy it passed all scratching. And they are not muralists who do interesting things, all they do is scratch, and put his tag, your signature with which object? now, if you look, from the psychological point of view, it is people who have nothing, no possibility to go out socially, because maybe it is a diminished intellectual or has not had cultural possibilities. And one way to make known itself is scratch, putting his signature. “I was there” and friends say “there was Pedro González”. It is a way to value, but the type does not understand the harm that is doing, and does not respect.
-You have had to see this kind of vandalism closely?
-In the lower part of Baquedano is the monument of the unknown soldier. They have stolen you the gun I don’t know how many times. Once had his arm and the gun, that I had to restore it to me. They grabbed him with a rope and a pickup truck and pulled it out. Sell it to the weight, because the bronze is 85% copper. And copper is worth 3 dollar pound. 5 lucas kilo. And if you see other monuments, there are many reliefs with soldiers, with horses all legs and pony tails have brought them is to sell it to the kilo! Then, I think that it is not a problem of caring for the public works, but education. We can not be every day with a paco or municipal guard behind the sculpture. It must begin by educating those unhappy poor who have no idea of what they are doing.
-In retrospect, what is your favorite statue which has made?
-The best, by far, is the cross of Mount Primo de Rivera of Maipú. It was commissioned by the Mayor, Herman Silva (DC), I wanted to make a monument of Ecumenical. He was going to run for reelection and had 6 months for the city. I wanted to make a big thing, but I needed like 2 years, and suddenly an idea occurs to me and I say to the Mayor “what we can do is do the Christ”.
It believes was one of its most brilliant ideas was to make a Christ pierced on the cross. The simplicity of the technique, allowed him to have it ready in just two months. As well and all Silva was not re-elected.
The project was significant for escultor not only for being Catholic, but because in Maipú lived almost all of his youth. Cross, 19 meters high, and twenty-four tons, was incorporated by looking towards the votive Temple of Maipú. For agenda topics, Hevia could not be the day they installed it. So the first time he saw her standing was during the opening ceremony. So shocked was, who began to cry. “It’s very interesting what happens there, because the cross is the Earth, and Christ is heaven. The sky always moves, and if you you stand down from the cross, you time the Christ is breathing, swaying. And Christ is alternately cloudy, starry, sky blue, or blue. It is painted with paint perlescente, so that he saw from afar that the cross irradiates the light. But it was a long time without maintenance and then painted it with current white paint, so that it does not produce the original effect. But it was very nice. There is one magical thing that I achieved in this work.”
The ceremony was a morning of September of the year 2000. Since it was an ecumenical Christ, it was attended by bishops, Protestant and Evangelical pastors. As well as schools and charities. HEVIA was just one more in the middle of the crowd, which formed a semicircle around the cross. From the stage, the master of ceremonies gave a speech where mentioned and thanked the various managers of the project, including bishops, authorities and foundations. “And of course, a round of applause for the sculptor, Arturo Hevia” declaim the master of ceremonies, after which, the crowd cheered the maipucino. “I couldn’t believe it, first time I’ve felt that people applaud me.” I yelled just to say hello. It was something exciting,”recalled the artist.

Original source in Spanish

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