MONTEVIDEO – A group of young artists working in a large, well-lighted hall at Sodre National Auditorium in Montevideo, Uruguay, is carrying on an almost extinct craft, painting a 200-meter (about 220 yards) canvas curtain by hand that will provide the background for a staging of the ballet “Sleeping Beauty.”
“Here, everything is 100 percent handmade” and no advanced technology is used, the workshop’s coordinator, Gustavo Petkoff, told EFE.
After an almost two-decade hiatus, the Uruguayan National Auditorium resumed using the technique in March 2013 at the behest of the institution’s director, Gerardo Griecco, and artistic ballet director Julio Bocca for the staging of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake.”
At the time, the auditorium received assistance from a number of set designers at Buenos Aires’s Colon Theater, including Gaston Joubert, who mentored Uruguayan colleagues.
Since then, the Sodre workshop has not paused in the production of curtains and, according to Petkoff, in 2017 screens and curtains were painted for three ballet performances and a gala event.
“Production is now declining, but there are curtain painting workshops in Brazil, Argentina and Chile,” Petkoff said.
In Argentina, Petkoff said, the production of hand-painted stage curtains is declining “because of general cultural policies.”