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He travelled widely in Europe between and , and seems to have had some knowledge of the Berlin Dada of the immediately post-war period, and in particular of the drawings of George Grosz. His drawings, like those of Grosz, often make use of lettering and graphic signs. Another influence seems to have been the work of Paul Klee. Another ancestor, speaking in a more general sense, is a slightly younger Argentinean artist, Antonio Berni Berni is now chiefly remembered for the work he produced at the end of his career, from the s onwards - two great narrative cycles that combine painting with collage, in which the artist expressed his feelings about the social condition of his country.
He reached this point by a somewhat circuitous route. Berni studied in Paris for five years on a government scholarship, leaving Argentina in and returning in After he returned to Buenos Aires, he was in contact with the Mexican Muralists, working with Siqueiros on a mural in a private house when the latter visited Buenos Aires in What he shares with Berni is an interest in narrative, and a capacity for social observation.
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In addition, he is fascinated, just as Berni was, by certain typically Argentinean myths, particularly the myth of the tango. In art, too, this is something that can save us. In France, humour is sarcastic, sometimes cynical. People will say of someone that he's "as useless as an ashtray on a motor-scooter The first of these speaks of the claustrophobic nature of the modern urban environment. The other two paintings, which form a pair, have no buildings, but consist simply, in each case, of a vast crowd of scurrying flgures, covering the whole surface of the canvas.
Some of these figures are nude, but their companions contrive to ignore this, so completely intent are they on the urgency of their own errands. These crowd scenes are reminiscent of what one finds in the Berlin drawings of George Grosz, but the mood is substantially less harsh. When I went with my father and uncles to a foot-ball match, to a reception or on a hunting-party, they all wore very handsome hats, most of all my father, who was a real amateur of headgear The hats are celebrated in another, much earlier, work included in this show, Surtout les Chapeaux This is a combination of painting and sculpture, with cut-out shapes clinging to a rectangular, white-painted pillar.
The present exhibition showcases a number of bronze sculptures, made at the very beginning of the s. The others tackle subjects not generally thought of as suitable for sculpture — for example Secondary Residence La Maison Secondaire lightly satirises the French cult of the holiday home, with the house itself, its puffed up mistress and the tree in her garden all assembled on a little platform. The mood is kindly, but the observation of bourgeois pretentiousness is deliciously acute. These are interesting for a number of different reasons.
These paintings, which date from the high point of the Pop era, do nevertheless have an undoubted resemblance to the work made by the Hairy Who, a group of semi-Pop painters working in Chicago, who held their first collective exhibition in Sacando la Lengua is especially close to some paintings of heads made by one of the most prominent members of the group, Jim Nutt b.
However, it is also significant because it signals the fascination felt by a large number of important artists of the post-World War II period with child art and Outsider art. An especially amusing aspect of El Fumador is the figure's checked shirt, which looks like a direct transcription of one of Klee's more abstract compositions. Indeed Gardel himself thought of tango as a kind of nationality in its own right. He was in fact born in France as Charles Gardes, and was brought to Argen- tina by his mother when he was just over two years old.
When he was on a tour of Spain in , a reporter asked him what was his true nationality. Corrientes was the street in Buenos Aires where all the tango bars were located. In the two paintings called Retrado con Codigo , which show a figure — Gardel — from behind, with a free brushstroke above him, he seems to suggest that there is a close analogy between dancing the tango and the act of painting. As the lyric of one famous tango — not as it happens by Gardel — puts it: He is keenly aware of the way in which the supposedly experimental avant-garde has in fact been transformed into a kind of academy, and he is determined not to be caught in this trap.
At the same time, he remains keenly aware of what the original Modernists achieved, and is not afraid to incorporate some of their discoveries in his own work. However since you have also been creating Plexiglas boxes. Does the creation of these spatial objects mean that a flat surface no longer interests you very much? My purpose is to define a certain image that contains its own impact. Sometimes inserting it into space seems necessary to me in order to express its complete poetry. Do you still see a future for painting, meaning for an individual initiative of artists in general and you in particular.
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The end, alone, seems important to me, to the extent that, the legible mechanism of sensibility proves effective or not. To me, its reality does not need to be questioned. This is a huge question that you are asking me by implication here: Society can buy up all the phenomena, cultural or otherwise —even the most hostile to the system which governs it —and to digest them in the sense that they profit in this way. I do not think, personally, that works lose their meaning in this way.
Each thing is a product of society: If the answer is no, why not? If the answer is yes, why and in what way? Without making a big thing of my individuality, I do not feel very well equipped to work in a team. I believe only that my work does not place me in a position to do that. The aggressiveness has not disappeared, but the requisite bitterness seems to me to have been changed into mockery and sarcasm.
You know, my work is not exactly an exercise in style on aggressiveness. It is possible that my works five or six years ago were more directly, more spectacularly aggressive. I was starting to paint and, certainly at that time, I was influenced by this artist. Things happened very quickly.
After a period when I was especially attached to the intrinsic structure of expression rather than to expression itself, starting in I was using photographic transfer — on which I did some things — in order to try to define a mode of expression which corresponded, it seemed to me, to a distance distance: I have never completely had the heart of an old warrior. May 68 undoubtedly was very important, not only for France, moreover; and the shock-waves are still being felt even today.
But these are all questions which do not really support my answers as a painter. It is, I think, the only possible answer, given the place which is granted to us. There certainly is infinitely more to say. Is this difference the effect of the technique being applied or have you something different in mind with your graphics and your paintings? It is true that the technique of engraving implies a specific graphic image which may appear different from that of paintings.
Julio Pantoga sic Ribeiro http: As to the collections, without being a collector. I would say that I accumulate things with which I enjoy sharing my life. It all began very early, when I inherited a stamp collection from my grandfather, but I very quickly understood that it was taking a lot of energy to continue with it, and more important, it bored me greatly. At the start of the fifties, I left on a trip to study in Europe, and with the earnings from the sale of the stamps, I began to buy — in Madrid — engravings.
This same collection was later to be enriched with contemporary European and Latin-American engravings. These engravings today make up part of the basic collection of the Centro de Arte Contemporaneo de Cordoba. Later I developed a passion for Pre-Columbian. When did you discover Pre-Columbian art? When I returned from Europe, I discovered in myself a pressing desire to know America.
In May , After I bought a car and specially adapted it, I started out on the road, deciding that my final destination must be Mexico. Out of Tiahuanaco in Bolivia, I was finding on my route the vestiges of different cultures which are scattered about the continent. I think that these months were the most intense ones in my life: On one road in Peru, near the coast, children sold me pieces of painted cotton which came from the funerary fardos of Chancay.
Later, traveling through Ecuador, other children sold me, for a few bits of change, stylized figurines which came from Valdivia. I arrived in Mexico with a small load which I had to divest myself of shortly thereafter. But later on, with the same passion, I continued my research, adapting it to my finances, which were not really encouraging at the time. I got used to traveling with my treasures: In a collection, how do you deal with preferences, how are priorities established?
For the ceramics, that I own, I give first place to representations of people or animals. For me, this is the first condition. Of all the ceramics, my preference is certainly for those of the Nazca culture. Here I find a very good example of the refinement of society. They were done with the greatest technical perfection. The designs, the shapes and the colors are wonderful. In any case, it is very difficult for me to establish a hierarchy. Each culture, in its diversity, has different interests. And I have the same relationship with ceramics as with the El Magdalena urns, the Mochicas of the first period, or the erotics of the Mochica III period.
They are all necessary in my daily life. As I find myself in your house, knowing your paintings and your collection, I would describe you as a recidivist. Why this obsession for series? The truth is that I have no idea why. Because of this, certainly, the army of funerary masks from Chancay , all painted an orange red, with their hair and their feathers. Grouped together , they convey the idea of multitude, with a strange presence.
Something similar happened to me with the funerary urns which come from the north of Colombia, in particular those of Magdalena. These urns, which are generally large, are made of beige ceramic and crowned with figures, standing or seated, in various positions. I have twenty-four of them, and together they produce a surprising effect. From time to time, I change their places and I see myself as a small boy doing the same thing with my lead soldiers. It was in Paris that you began to become interested in African art? Later I met Jacques Kerchache, who suggested that I swapsome of my pieces with him.
At that time, he had a gallery on rue de Seine. This exchange was for certain the detonator of my new passion; very convenient, because Paris is still one of the greatest markets for African art, with its galleries, museums and foundations, in constant activity, and its periodic offerings in the sale rooms. The discovery of the desired object in a gallery, the succession of unhoped for encounters and the participation, from time to time, in auctions, is for me a way of breaking with daily routine and to give vent to my passion boldly.
And in African art, what are your preferences? Among the things I got by swapping were two masks from the Ekoi people of Niger. I found them fascinating. These masks are generally double: Their characteristic quality is to be covered with leather, with a very deep patina. Aside from the sensuousness of the material and the elegance of the hairstyles, their hightened expressivity is a constant contradiction with the treatment of the object. I think this expressiveness explains why there are not too many enthusiasts and why, from time to time, top-choice pieces appear on the market.
It is these objects which keep me company while I work. You spend part of the year in Argentina. During this period, does the collector go into hibernation or does he discover in this country other sources of interest? There I began to collect Pre-Columbian ceramics from the north of Argentina, which unfortunately is not well known. I think judging by the technical level and the inventiveness of its forms, it rivals the best South American pieces.
Furthermore, it has allowed me to get to know well a part of my country that I was not familiar with. Here, in your house, I feel a little intimidated by all these objects, masks, totems which surround us on all sides. You have a family and children. How do they handle your passions, which you impose on them? I must admit that well before starting a family, the objects already occupied a part of my life and were invading my space. It is true that where I placed them depended on the age of the younger generation.
I have always left the pieces of less value within the reach of the children. They were free to put them on the ground and do what they wanted to with them. However some tossed balls did create work for the restorer. In any case, six children grew up here and I must say that the damages were minimal. But you are also a collecter of Pre-Columbian art and African art mainly. What is the source of this passion? I have always like to collect objects with which I like to share my life.
It all began very early, when I inherited a collection of stamps from my grandfather.
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The passion for pre-Columbian came to me later. In May , having returned to Argentina, after buying a car, I set out on the road and set Mexico as my final destination. Starting in Tiahuanaco, in Bolivia, I encountered on the road the vestiges of different cultures which were spread about the continent. I think that these months were the most intense of my life: On a road in Peru, near the coast, children sold me pieces of painted cotton which came from the funerary fardos of Chancay.
The masks made of red wood were placed there, right on the street. Later, in Ecuador, other children offered me terracotta figures from Valdivia. Over the years, my collection has known a certain number of avatars, but I continued my search, getting used to traveling with my treasures: Pre-Columbian art objects have accompanied me everywhere. I had the good fortune to meet Jacques Kerchache, the inspiration for the museum on Quai Branly. Then I made the acquaintance, in his country, of a king who gave me a number of pieces.
Ordinarily the elephant masks are burned when they are no longer used. Here, in Arcueil, I have assembled a good thirty of them. What approach do you prefer in dealing with the unbelievable diversity of works from tribal cultures, and more generally non-European art? I have never collected Asian art, and very few objects from Oceania.
My preferred areas are Pre-Columbian and African civilizations. Sometimes I have collected objects that are not well known and not highly valued, like these Chane masks from the north of Argentina, hanging from a cross-beam in the studio. In Pre-Columbian art, where ceramics is concerned, I have given preference to representations of human beings and animals. My preferences are for creations of the Nazca culture, which are very refined in design, shape, and color—and technically perfect. I have the same relationship with the Mochica of the first period and the erotics of the Mochica III period, as well as with the urns of El Magdalena, in Colombia; I own a whole group of them.
All these things are necessary in my daily life. In one of the underground rooms in your home, which resembles a crypt, they are aligned in two rows: In one of the reception rooms, two display cases face each other, filled with tens of funerary masks from Chancay. These cinnabar-red figures, with their shell eyes and black pupils, produce a much more powerful effect than an isolated object.
Where does this taste for series, groupings, come from? The truth is that I have no idea. I think that childhood memories, lead soldiers have something to do with it. That certainly connects with this army of funerary masks from Chancay all painted an orange-red, with their hairstyles and feathers. Grouped in this way, they suggest a multitude, with a strange presence. The same is true of the funerary urns from Magdalena.
I have twenty-four of them; from time to time, I move them around and I see myself again as a small boy doing the same thing with lead soldiers. Not all your objects are so serious. Unlike more than one collector of primitive art, it could be said that you are not as sensitive to the interior dimension of these figures, to their individual mystery, as to the ability they have to exteriorize a feeling, to their expressive power, and also to the variety of their postures.
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There is also this taste for color, the polychrome. Among the objects obtained by exchange with Jacques Kerchache, there were two Ekoi masks which I found fascinating. These masks are often double, one light and the other dark, life and death united. Aside from the sensuousness of the material and the elegance of the hairstyles, their heightened expressiveness is in constant contradiction with the treatment of the object.
This expressiveness is not so much what most of the collectors are seeking in African art. No, moreover, the humor, gaiety, and vividness of the colors, the pictural aspect. I like for an object to amuse me. I appreciate invention in all its forms. I would never be able to buy this kind of thing. There's a problem loading this menu right now. Learn more about Amazon Prime.
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