Brazil - 1941
Brazilian, b. 1941
In 1965, the Museum of Modern Art of Rio de Janeiro hosts a remarkable exhibition: Opinião 65. Thanks to the commitment of two art dealers, Ceres Franco and Jean Boghici, the most intelligent existing samples of Brazilian art of that time were gathered for the exhibit, next to European artists.
Side by side with Waldemar Cordeiro, Antonio Dias, Rubens Gerchman, Tomoshige Kusuno, Hélio Oiticica and Roberto Magalhães, there was Carlos Vergara.
The pop, with its neo-dadaism, had turned its back to the great American art of the 40/50’s – Abstract Expressionism – and was investing on images coming from the consumption world. Following that wave, Brazilian artists were turning their look again to the picture, but from a critical distance determined by local social and political conditions, very different from the experience of the developed North. Vergara’s painting of that time resembles the neo-expressionism that would only become a trend in Europe about ten years later, probably under the influence of master Iberê Camargo, whose classes were still fresh in his memory.
During the 70’s, his work is transformed. Vergara’s eyes turn to Rio’s big carnival party. One of his favorite objects is the Cacique de Ramos music parade, with thousands of extras, where everyone is equal: “there are no Indians, only chiefs”. He studies, through images, how individuality is preserved, through characteristic strokes, on a massive union that is capable of vanishing egos through the displacement of the huge group, under the rhythmic sound, along the city streets.
At that time, also, Vergara develops a series of awarded projects for VARIG’s stores in Brazil and abroad. São Paulo, Mexico City, Paris, Tokyo, New York. After this experience, his works multiply at architectonic spaces and deploy to the present days: BCN, Itaú, Jornal do Brasil, Barrashopping, Morumbi Tower, among many others.
From the 80’s on, Vergara puts a lot of attention into rigor, but does not forget the adventure of experience.
Vergara abandoned picture shapes characterized by party images and urban life that were characteristic of his work for years, and began a pictorial investigation that includes, for instance, the group of works undertaken in Minas Gerais, in a small paint pigment factory. The canvases are printed on site, as monotypes, and then the artist intervenes, many times adding other colors to them. The generosity of his scale is very pleasant, the visual field is literally taken over by its amplitude, and one feels involved and transported to the site, as if the artist could take the viewer into the moment of the work conclusion.
On his more recent work, Vergara presents, on a more intimate scale, the monotypes over the pigment factory furnace ring in Minas Gerais. On this new scale, the monumental aspect, the scenic aspect and the crepuscular atmosphere existing on the large canvas are clear and light. The artist’s chromatic interventions added to the prints are almost transparent.
The delicate and lacking in thickness painting of this investigative work is opposed by the powerful chromatic contrasts and the accumulation of pigments in layers of other recent works. On those canvases, Vergara starts a new pictorial experience where he is seduced by the earth-colored and strong reds pigments, which he had been researching over the years. Those pigments not only contribute to color but also to give a base and a texture specially created to combine with the chromatic effects of yellows and blues that are added up. Those works also indicate a development in a sense that they gather on a same surface the two slopes that Vergara had been researching in parallel: at one hand, the shadow of printed images, walls, furnace rings, strokes and marks of the pigment factory floor, on always dark canvas; on the other, the cheerfulness of the chromatic party in the oblique memory of someone who, for years, saw Rio’s Carnival as one of his favorite themes.
The trips through Brazil – Minas countryside, Pantanal – extended and widened the latitude of his work. To the pigments factory rests and fossils are added records of historical cities cobblestones and nature signs. That new pictorial Atlas of Brazilian landscape, registered without the resources of banal anecdotes or easy picture shapes, consists on the artist’s contribution to a contemporary plastic vocabulary anchored in local values that may be understood as part of a new “spaciality” for this country’s fine arts painting.