"Is there a way it can go faster?"
Victoria Gitman peers at the monitor and impatiently taps the laptop's down arrow. On the screen, photos of purses scroll past in a rapid, jerky rhythm. She's using a borrowed computer; at home, she says, she flies through these listings twice as fast, watching the colors and shapes in the pictures blend together as they fly by.
Gitman knows exactly what she's looking for. The Buenos Aires-born artist, now based in Hallandale Beach, has spent 15 years scouring antique markets, thrift stores, and websites like eBay and Etsy that sell secondhand items, searching for just the right purse or piece of jewelry.
But this isn't your average shopping addiction. In Gitman's eyes, these aren't just accessories. They're muses, subjects she'll study for months at a time as she painstakingly paints them in ultra-realistic detail. "I'm, like, hungry," she says. "You can tell from my work that I'm a very obsessive person."
Gitman's paintings of accessories such as necklaces, bracelets, and purses made of beads or fur, along with a series of oil reproductions of portraits originally sketched by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, compose the exhibition "Victoria Gitman: Desiring Eye," which opens this Thursday, February 26, at Pérez Art Museum Miami.
The idea for the paintings was born when she decided to depict a necklace she'd used as a prop in a series of self-portraits. Soon, she was searching the Lincoln Road Antique Market in South Beach and the Swap Shop in Fort Lauderdale for her next subject. "Anytime I would travel -- I went to London, and in Covent Garden there is a really nice antiques market, so I got a couple purses there. But my main source was actually on Lincoln Road."
Paintings of necklaces gave way to paintings of bracelets and then to her current subject, purses. She began painting white beaded pouches, then branched out into colored beads, and most recently has turned her attention to purses made of fur. Her shopping techniques also evolved. "Every time I went to Lincoln Road, I would find maybe 50 things, and [often] nothing would be a good subject for me, whereas I go on eBay and there are like 3,000 each time I go, and they change all the time," she says.
Gitman's artistic process, on the other hand, has remained old-fashione