Where: Museo d’arte contemporanea Villa Croce

When: 8 luglio – 18 settembre

Curated by Cecilia Brunson Projects, London
in collaboration with Almeida e Dale Art Gallery, Sau Paulo.


Villa Croce is delighted to announce a survey exhibition of works from the 1960s and 1970s by renowned Brazilian Pop artist, Claudio Tozzi curated by Cecilia Brunson Projects in collaboration with Almeida & Dale Art gallery.
Tozzi, whose vibrant work was most recently seen at Tate Modern’s critically acclaimed exhibition, The World Goes Pop, provides a dynamic overture to the series of exhibitions with 18 works which neatly encapsulate the language that Pop Art adopted internationally. While the leading names of British and American Pop Art frequently celebrate the consumer pop culture of the time, Tozzi’s work stands as a critical and fundamentally political response to it. His images are often derived from popular media, such as television and newspaper reports but here transposed into a collection of granular and dissembled pixels at the limit of recognition which suggest the work of both Roy Lichtenstein and Sigmar Polke.

The artist, who continues to live and make work in his native Sao Paulo, was one of the most important exponents of the Brazilian avant-garde in the 1960s and participated in several national and international biennials of the period, most notably with a special room dedicated to him at the Venice Biennale of 1967. Tozzi wanted to popularize art, making art for the masses which communicated the pervasive mood of political upheaval of the times – expressed in protests against the military regime in his native Brazil such as ‘The March of the One Hundred Thousand’ in Rio De Janeiro, the student revolts in Paris and demonstrations held around the world against the Vietnam War. By adopting Pop’s accessible language, he proposed to sensitize a wider audience to the mobilizing potential of art.

Multidao (1968) particularly encapsulates the mood of fervor and unrest; depicting a crowd on the march in the act of collective protest, each gure seeming to blend into the force of a single moving form. In the simplicity of this dramatically reduced image, rendered with industrial paint on polyester, Tozzi has created a potent metaphor for the power of the individual within the multitude. The power of the individual is further expressed in Tozzi’s electric portrait of football legend Pele (Pele, 1969-70) seen in the primary yellow and blue of the Brazilian ag, this is a man with the power to move, lead and invigorate the masses.

Pop Art’s fascination with the heroic male is further explored in Tozzi’s extraordinary and iconic image of Che Guevara (shown here with a double version Guevara, 1967). Like no other, this striking image has sewn itself seamlessly into the vernacular of popular culture, being reproduced, copied and absorbed to such a degree that it has attained a genuine cult status which endures to this day. At the time however, this would have been an incendiary image, produced immediately after Guevara’s assassination by the CIA, the political message clear and evident to his audience.

Tozzi’s representations of astronauts are redolent of the claustrophobia and toxic political tension of the Cold War, played out here between the super powers in the drama of the space race. In one we see an American astronaut with the stars and stripes streaming behind him, whilst in the second a Russian cosmonaut now inside his rocket looks pensively out into space. These are suffocating images, which express with daring economy the deadening hand of the political orthodoxy of the time with East versus West, reaching out beyond even the con nes of our own world.

The bold lines and punch of hot primary colours, frequently rendered with industrial paints in Tozzi’s work, appropriate the language of popular culture and hint at Tozzi’s early career as a graphic artist. Everyday objects including padlocks, screws and belts offer further shorthand to the political oppression of the Brazilian regime of the time.

Claudio Tozzi, was born 1944 in São Paulo, Brazil, where he lives and works. He is considered one of the most important Brazialian avant-garde artists, who has transformed art practice since the ‘60s.
He has participated in numerous biannials and international exhibitions and in 1967 the Biennale di Venezia celebrates his work by dedicating a solo space to his artistic practice.