Updated: Nov 24, 2022
The series of seven impressive paintings by Ernesto Deira were restituted to his family in Buenos Aires after fifty years.
Buenos Aires was a unique place to meet with the artist that gathered around the family dinner table to celebrate my mother’s cooking, and my father’s affability. He was a music editor, and a good storyteller, she was a patron of the arts, and a gifted host. Amongst my parents’ close friends were Olga “Lucy” Galperin, and Ernesto Deira. She is a distinguished pianist; he was a famed artist who pioneered the New Figuration in Latin America.
After the military coup of 1976, Lucy and Ernesto went into exile in Paris where, over many years I developed a close friendship with their son Martin. Ernesto died in 1986, and twenty years later the Museum of Fine Arts of Buenos Aires curated a retrospective of his work for which Martin and I created a short biographical film about his father. Almost twenty years, we’re once again sited at the same table, wearing our thinking hats. The reason behind this challenge is a set of seven paintings by Deira known collectively as “Identifications”, which were lost in Chile after the Pinochet's power grab in 1973. The paintings, of strong political and social content, were believed to have been destroyed by the military dictatorship. Deira died in exile believing his work was irremediably lost.
However, in 2003, during a visit to Chile, Felipe Noé, Deira’s old friend and fellow artist, learned the paintings had been preserved in storage at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Santiago. During the next twenty years, Deira’s family struggled for the immediate restitution of the seven paintings of the series known as “Identificaciones”. In October of 2021, an agreement was finally reach and a month later the paintings were restituted to artist family in Buenos Aires.