Critics’ Picks

Claudio Tozzi, Multidão (Crowd), 1968, industrial paint on Duratex, 30 x 51".


Claudio Tozzi

Cecilia Brunson Projects
3 Royal Oak Yard Bermondsey Street
January 23–March 26, 2016

Building on Tate Modern’s recent “EY Exhibition: The World Goes Pop,” Brazilian artist Claudio Tozzi’s works from 1967–71 are surveyed at this gallery in collaboration with the Sao Paulo–based Almeida e Dale. Bright colors are framed by bold outlines in the artist’s stylized figurative paintings—a formal approach similar to those of many of his Pop contemporaries, such as Roy Lichtenstein or Allan D’Arcangelo, among countless others.

Tozzi’s work covered a wide range of subjects, from the popular to the political—legendary footballer Pelé, a man’s lingering gaze upon a woman at a bar, a helmet-clad astronaut during the Space Race, and Che Guevara’s corpse following his assassination by the CIA in Bolivia. The artist made provocative works that confronted authoritarian ideology; living in Brazil during its military dictatorship (which lasted from the coup d’état in 1964 until ’85), he witnessed much of Latin America falling prey to the spread of fascism.

Multidão (Crowd), 1968, depicts bodies in black and white industrial paint over Duratex, derived from newspaper photographs of agitators and demonstrators against the regime. Parafuso (Screw), 1971, and Cinturão (Belt), 1970, depict these objects as stark metaphors of oppression and suffocation, while the readymade sculpture Catraca (Turnstile), 1968, consists of the titular gate, padlocked and immovable. Tozzi’s paintings reflect a world in aggravated flux—the rise of consumerism and popular culture offset by Cold War politics. His imagery—flat forms upon flat surfaces—reflect the richly layered history of a deeply complicated world.