Claudio Tozzi - Cecilia Brunson Projects

01.23 – 03.24 / 2016
One of the biggest names in Brazilian pop art, Claudio Tozzi, is to host first solo exhibition in London:

Claudio Tozzi: New Figuration The Rise of Pop Art 1967-1971, a partnership between the Almeida & Dale Gallery and British gallery Cecilia Brunson Projects, displays works produced by the artist at the height of Brazil´s civil-military dictatorship.

A precursor of the art phenomenon known as Pop Art, London will host the first solo exhibition of the artist, considered the pioneer of the Pop movement in Brazil, between 23 January and 24 March. Claudio Tozzi: New Figuration The Rise of Pop Art 1967-1971 is a joint project of the Almeida & Dale Gallery with the British Gallery Cecilia Brunson Projects which is to host the exhibition of 18 works by the artist done during the rise and peak of Brazil´s civil-military dictatorship (1964-1985). The solo show is the first of a series of three exhibitions held in partnership between the two galleries whose objective is to present Brazil´s modern art to the British public.

The artist is also one of the highlights of the exhibition The World Goes Pop, at the Tate Modern, which brings together the works of the leading artists of Pop Art in the 1960-70 in Latin America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

Life, works and Pop Art

Born in São Paulo (SP), Claudio Tozzi (1944) graduated in Architecture from the School of Architecture and Urbanism of São Paulo University – FAU-USP, but always worked as a graphics artist, the core language of his work, together with vibrant colors, pop culture and communication media.

While in the USA and the UK, Pop Art portrayed essentially the culture of the masses and of consumer society. Tozzi´s work, who always sought to promote his art to the masses, centers on the Brazilian political situation during the most repressive period of the dictatorship. In his work, the harsh experience of the dictatorship leads the author to use the Pop esthetic as a metaphor for the years of repression, violence and arbitrariness of the State, placing his work not only in the global context of the art, but also in the world political issues of post-1945 marked by the Cold war.

Multidão (Crowd) (1968), included in the show, is one of the works which best captures the essence of those years by narrating a protest in which each character appears to take on a different human form. Through this simple image with great dramatic effect, produced using industrial paint on polyester, Tozzi creates a strong metaphor of power of the individual in the collective group, a prominent issue at the time both in Brazil, with the One Hundred Thousand March against the dictatorship, and in France with the resolution of May 1968.

The power of the individual is also strongly expressed in the portrait of Pelé (Pele, 1969-70), in which the yellow and blue of the Brazilian flag symbolize a man´s power to change and lead the masses.

The fascination of Pop Art with the heroic male figure is addressed by Tozzi in the iconic painting of Che Guevara, done immediately after Guevara´s assassination by the CIA, in the series of seven paintings Guevara (1967), which will be displayed in the exhibition.

Screws, padlocks and ladders, objects from urban and daily life, became symbols of political oppression in his work. In Screw (1971), the different types of screws represent the oppression and suffocation prevalent during the dictatorship.

The political involvement of the artist, who began his career at the XI Salon of Modern Art (1963), however, was not devoid of criticism and controversy within the art world, when Tozzi, unlike other fellow Brazilian and foreign artists, refused to boycott the São Paulo Biennial (1969), as proposed by the curator of the show, Mário Pedrosa, in response to the censorship suffered by the artists.

In a period also marked by strong criticism, clashes and resistance against the United States among artists and intellectuals from the left in Latin America, Tozzi forged dialogue with the works of American artists such as Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997) and, influenced by the American super hero comic strips recreated the male imagery, critically addressing the war, conflict and oppression.

According to the critic and physicist Mário Schenberg (1914-1990), the works of Tozzi, whom he met in the 1960s when the artist was still a student at the FAU, introduced a new form to Brazilian art, then shaped by the concretist vanguard which began in 1956, with the National Exhibition of Concrete Art in 1956 at the Museum of Modern Art in São Paulo – MAM – SP. This work, which helped reshape Brazil and challenged Brazil´s darkest political period in the twentieth century, is now on view for all. The catalogue of the artist´s work featuring essays by Cecília Brunson, Ricardo Camargo and Isobel Whitelegg will also be launched during the exhibition.

The Almeida & Dale Gallery

One of the top galleries in São Paulo city, the Almeida & Dale Art Gallery has been involved in the Brazilian and Latin-American secondary art market for 15 years. With selected artworks by modern and contemporary artists, it has incorporated important works in the most prestigious collections in Brazil by artists including Portinari, Di Cavalcanti, Bonadei, Cicero Dias, Alfonso Botero, Beatriz Milhazes, Cildo Meireles, and Adriana Varejão.

Since 2012, the Almeida & Dale Gallery has sought to hold solo exhibitions based on a historical survey by a selected curator, providing a picture of the different facets of the career paths of the artists. Over these years, the gallery has held solo and retrospective exhibitions of artists such as Alfredo Volpi, Alberto da Veiga Guignard, Willys de Castro, Cândido Portinari and Ismael Nery.

Cecilia Brunson Projects

This London-based gallery was founded in 2014 by Cecilia Brunson and is located on the site of her home. Chilean born, Cecilia has lived in London for over 20 years and her gallery of contemporary art stands out for its comfortable setting which seeks to reestablish the bond between daily life and the works of art.

The gallery´s mission is to bring works by mid-career foreign artists to the UK who are little known by the British public and outside the mainstream, as well as to work on projects with overseas curators.

Set off Bermondsey Street within a short walk of London Bridge and the River Thames, our mission is to bring projects from outstanding, mid-career, international artists to the UK; renowned artists, deep in the pivotal ‘meat’ of their careers. Our programmes often develop projects in dialogue with international curators.
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