|The site of Cristina Alvarez Magliano
Fine Art in Marquetry
|Maria Cristina Alvarez Magliano was born in Chacabuco, province of Buenos Aires,
Argentina, in 1943. She got her first diploma in arts in 1958. However, she kept her
artistic activities as a hobby along her university studies at the University of Buenos
Aires Law School and her long and successful professional career in the field of labor
and federal law of her country. In 2003 she retired from her post as Secretaria Judicial
de la Corte Suprema de Argentina, with status equivalent to federal circuit court judge,
to dedicate her efforts to the activity she loves most, which is artistic works in wood.
Since I was a girl I had a strong and deep necessity to put everything I knew and felt into images and
objects. My hands made it very easy for me; perhaps the genes of my father were the culprit for
having me drawing and painting at all times, besides having wonderful 'cuadernos de clase' (school
handbooks)with a lot of images -needed or not-. By the time I was a teen I was a rebel in any sense
of the word -imagine a young Taurus woman in the late 50's hoping to be an independent artist and a
However that wasn't easy at all, I had -and still have- a strong compromise with beauty and harmony,
with creativity and seriousness of mind. I strongly believe that art can change the way we see
ourselves, making us more tolerant to other's points of view, ideas and feelings; in sum, more open to
diversity. It is, at least, my commitment. I think we must try to surround our everyday life with art. Not
only in pictures, but in every simple object we use from our kitchen to our car. That is one of the
reasons for having chosen wood as a medium to express myself. It is a solid, perdurable and yet
flexible and beautiful material that will be with us for as long as we want.
|Some words about the technique
|As I try to explain constantly, my work starts in my head, not in my hands. Since I am kind of
compulsive-obsessive, attentive to detail in extremis, I bore easily if I don't have a serious
challenge over my working table. I bore also if I have to do or look to a repetitive thing.
Sometimes, wood veneer in itself can produce such a monotonous and stiff image that it
could be appropriate to refer to it as 'an unwrinkled expanse of sameness' (as a friend of
mine used to say). And nothing like that could be farthest from what I think is my way of
expression. So, why I chose wood veneer and marquetry? Because it allows me to do
different, very unusual images. I don't imitate painting; I don't want my pictures be confused
with paintings although I love and admire them. I use a diversity of techniques for the cutting
process, all tending to assure me that I can change whatever parts of the image I don't like,
and that I'm not making a puzzle. Sometimes people have said to me: you must like puzzles!
No, I don't. I think there is a misconception when puzzles and marquetry are compared.
Puzzles are cut after/over the image, not necessarily following it, to create a challenge and
entertain people putting back all the pieces together. In marquetry, the image is created by a
cutting process that follows rigorously the forms until the whole is achieved. I use the 'double
bevel' or 'double diagonal' or 'conique' cut with a scroll saw, and sometimes the 'knife' or
'scalpel' cutting. Depending on the kind of image I'm working on, I also use the
'superposition', 'de Vriz' or 'fusion' method to get transparencies and special diffused effects.
For that reason, even if I want to, I cannot do more than one piece at a time. Other methods,
as the sandwich, piece by piece, even the famous Boulle, and now the laser cut, have been
created to enable the craftsman to work less and produce an infinite quantity of the same
image. For a description of the available and popular cutting methods with photos and
examples of the finished pieces, visit the interesting site of Bernard Rottenfus, at La
|So, I start with the design on a paper the same size of the piece. Then I decide if some
elements can be grouped in a sub-system that later would be integrated into more complex
ones. In every cut, I advance adding new parts of the image to the already assembled. In this
way (its progression is equal to traditional painting) I can change the forms and colors as I
progress in the picture. Here there is an example, a big picture composed of 4 panels.