In the 60’s, Claudio Tozzi’s first works and visual experiences with the “new figuration” were well accepted both by the cultural and by the public in general. He worked with images and events of urban life and used in his paintings immediately recognizable icons (Guevara, crowds, astronauts, a well known bandit, etc.)
I had the intention of getting close to the language of the media. I used to appropriate images of the urban world, comics, always with the intention of changing their meaning, of proposing a new syntax to create a new message; to create new objects.
His pictures had the purpose of associating the concept of appropriation of an image (Duchamp) to a constructive structure revealed by the rational organization of the elements in his paintings.
Tozzi is not intuitive. On the contrary, he is reflective and methodic. From his first works, his images were constructed based on a strong graphic influence.
From the 70’s, a more elaborated chromatic treatment has been added to his works, which acquired a symbolic connotation that translated the years of cultural oppression existing at the time.
He also began to use metaphoric and more subtle elements. The screw was his first metaphor and until today it is a visual sign present in his works.
In this series, it becomes clear that the different approaches to the screw correspond to a process of reflection on the graphic and metaphorical possibilities of one single theme.
In 1972 his constant intention in creating art that required an intense participation of the spectator led him to propose a panel of huge dimensions to be used in the lateral of a building in Praça da Republica, in downtown São Paulo.
I had always wanted to do works that could be inserted in the urban space, an intention that resulted from my studies and my degree as an architect and urban designer.
In this decade he has been making experiences with new languages and has encompassed other areas of knowledge using a diversification of supports and media: super 8, xerox, polaroyd, etc. He has been researching new pigments and materials, a step that associates him to the language of conceptual art. He has created objects that are associated to concepts, agglomerated materials protected by an acrylic box. Sand, soil, grass, and cotton fiber mixed with pigments were among the materials the artist used. In the Venice Biennial, where he exhibited these objects, he created an environmental art when he lined the floor of his exhibiting room with little white flowers.
His concern with the city and people now encompasses the habitat.
Started in 74, the series “color-pigment-light” proposes a concept of colors through the
overlapping of pigments that lead to a reticular structure made up of little grains of
color in layers of subtle color changes which juxtapose on the surface of the canvas like
the graphic solutions we can find in out-doors and off-set printings. A specific technical characteristic that Tozzi has always used and can still be found in his most recent works.
This reticule is knitted like a fabric... These small signs of paint have different drawings, sometimes small circles; other times irregular figures and lines. The density of the paint also changes. Sometimes it is thick
and covers other colors, in other places it is liquefied and melt with the in depth ones.
In the early 80’s he resumes the pop-art language constructing work that start with the act of incorporating reticules and four by four scale of colors used in the graphical printing processes. He appropriates himself of some images that are easily identified by the public: “Papagalias”, tropical environments, flowers, bedspreads painted in patchwork.
With these works Claudio Tozzi was awarded a prize that included a trip abroad at the Salão Nacional de Arte Moderna.
These are series in which the images vary very little, therefore getting close to the concept of multiplied art, as Andy Warhol’s series of images of Marilyn Monroe and the
His tropical symbols are constructed territories based on a geometry concept, therefore abstract, with a chromatic rationality.
The urban territories, architecture, cities and his visual interpretations have always prevailed in his work. The macro space is present in the series “Urbe” and “Urban Reticular Weft” in which he researches the city in which he lives and its complex structure revealed through the overlapping of chromatic lines and surfaces which stress an intention and a constructive awareness.
Geometry, in my work, is not the one found in space, as Claudio Tozzi prefers to refer to time. Before, in the tension between space and time. He thinks about time always based on cities.
After this experience, Claudio Tozzi started the "Passages" series and, more recently, "Imaginary Architecture and Territories", where to the constructive aspect new concerns were added: material, texture, cutting out, volumes.
The theme is only the scaffolding which the artist uses in his pictorial construction. Claudio Tozzi faces the question of painting with more intensity and, above all, more autonomy.
All passages are “passages” from one place to another, from one time to another, one situation to another, between here and there. The passage is a means. However, being a means it is also a place - a space.
The stairs, the architectonic spaces were approached by the artist in an objective way, as elements for formal analogies which translate each step as a succession of planes which overlap, construct and deconstruct each other on the surface of the paintings.
His painting transforms what is perceived at first sight as something real. And this gaze creates in the imagination of the spectator the illusion that the subject is objective whereas it is only a means to show the interventions, which are many and possible regarding form.
In the process of developing his work, Claudio Tozzi intensified his formal concerns and started to work with basic structural
elements: lines, planes, colors, organic forms, materials, etc.
He articulates, couples, overlaps, deconstructs the forms within the painting and proposes a new spatial situation. He
researches inherent solutions for the act of painting, for painting in general. Many times
the connection of visual elements, the sequence of forms determines the final territory of a painting that can be either plane or an object cut from space.
In some of his paintings the unfolding of forms, -- without the safe-conduct of the themes -- are an eminently graphic ballet of the elements: Spirals, polyhedrons, whose directions are contradicted. Any clue that perspective may give to depth is denied by
another which issues besides the spectator.
In the tradition of abstract painting his actual work has more in depth roots. This resulted from the increased rigor he adopted in the paintings, from the more densely connected surfaces, the emphasis on the outlines of the paintings and from the image in the paintings/objects, the dialogue of the formal (constructive) relationships on the surface and from the emotion that emerges from the scale of colors.
Claudio Tozzi has always wished to make public works, has wanted to interfere in the urban space, to insert objects and signs for them to participate in the drawing of the urban space. He designed important panels for public buildings, São Paulo subway stations and a huge panel for a building located in Av. Angélica.
His more recent site-specific interference work in the urban space is the one he carried out in the avenues 23 de Maio and Av. Bandeirantes in São Paulo. The issue is to interfere in a specific area of the city, to characterize it by specific visual elements that define their identity. A series of panels that display variations in the scale of colors that extends to the urban contour and to the ensemble.
Claudio Tozzi is an artist who is always renewing his language in a search to continuously overcome his own achievements. His more recent works reveal significant changes in the compositional and spatial aspects of his art.
1- Interview given by Claudio Tozzi to Fábio Magalhães
2- Fábio Magalhães. “Work on construction” . Pg. 19
3- Fábio Magalhães. “Work on Construction. Pg. 40
4- Interview given by Claudio Tozzi. “Construction site”. SESC, pg 22
5- Tavares de Araújo, Olívio. Catalogue of the Venice Biennial, 76.
6-Munari, Luis. “Invention and Mechanics. Claudio Tozzi. EDUSP, pg. 47.
7- Interview given by Claudio Tozzi. Construction Site. SESC, pg. 20
8- Magalhães, Fábio. “A new painterliness.” Claudio Tozzi. EDUSP, pg. 81
9- Matos, Olgária. Geometries of Time. Claudio Tozzi. EDUSP, pg. 103.
10- Fábio Magalhães. “Work on Construction”, page 63.
11- Knoll, Victor. Twelve Observations on Passages. Claudio Tozzi, page 121.
12- Munari, Luis. “Invention and Mechanics”, page 48.
13- Aguilar, Nelson. “As Kasparov playing chess”. Claudio Tozzi. EDUSP, page 87.
14- Leirner, Sheila. A critical fragment 4. Cláudio Tozzi: Constructed universe of images, page 94.
The texts quoted above can be found at the library of FAUUSP.