TONY CAMARGO AND SOME HOPE FOR ART . PAULO HERKENHOFF

Throughout the 21st century, Tony Camargo’s operational fronts have always surprised us due to the unexpected character of his strategies invigorating visual perception in a world saturated by photographic, televised, and digital images of all kinds, and an art system directed by mercantile and revenue capital. The artist is expected to adapt to this logic and this discipline which require the styling of products and their critical marketing. Tony Camargo guides the gaze towards a state of distrust in such overwhelming forces.

Tony Camargo is part of the generation for whom seeing the world through the online web has been naturalized. It’s so recent, but “it’s always been this way”. The timelessness of painting - it doesn’t depend on its past nor its future, painting is - in Tony Camargo’s corpus departs from the new source of color to humanity’s eyes disseminated by the computer. Newton’s disc, Goethe’s theories, Chevreul’s Law of Simultaneous Contrast of Colors, Josef Alberts’ Interaction of Color, and Kunst der Farbe by Itten at Bauhaus now have to coexist with the chromatic unfoldings offered by the internet. The chromatic spectrum there acquires a new form of articulation. “Painting is born ready” proclaims the painter Tony Camargo, son of the web.

Against the arrogance of formalistic critics, the haughtiness of a certain painting by heroes of the form, the commercial need for virtuoso painters, the daring market strategy of inventing the “Brazilian Turner” for the ignorant, Tony Camargo faces the new materiality of the pictorial sign. Like the concretizes, he uses automotive paint, synthetic materials, and engineered wood, but his Planopinturas desacralize the notion of heroic painting. Some of his acid, luminous, fluorescent colors defy the graphic design industry, as they don’t reproduce well in catalogues. Such an action is at the same time affirmative and disruptive of painting as something that, in order do make critical sense in the contemporary world, has to rethink itself not as a precious object, but as an available phenomenon for the new ways to work the sensorial.

Another aspect of this Tony Camargo, simultaneously inconspicuous and disturbing, is his irony. His objects and videos don’t confirm our notions about the world. In his way, but also like Waltercio Caldas and Jorge Duarte, his objects think of Duchamp and Magritte. His elegant pool stick presents slight disorder: its rubbery material is flexible, which turns it into a ghost of its use value. His freshness comes from a critical gaiety, of his capacity to make us laugh at antiquated culture. The lighthearted humor of his videos suggest a sideways smile, an awkward rite that involves the spirit. Like someone who doesn’t expect much, it places us between childhood and maturity, in a praise to the logic of mess and chaos, which become the much-needed poetic positivity of entropy. And that’s no small feat in today’s world.

 

Text from the cathalog of the solo exhibition Seleta Crômica e Objetos, realized between march and july 2018, at Museu Oscar Niemeyer, Curitiba, Brazil.