J J E O - P O P
the October gallery

NEO-POP CUBISM 13th May - 19th June 1999 There is an almost fairy-tale quality to the story of Romero Britto. As a child born into a large family in Brazil, Britto combated the drabness of poverty by teaching himself to paint filling every available scrap of paper with images of a brighter, more colourful world. As a teenager, his pictures began to sell; enough to fuel his artistic ambitions and provide the means to travel around Europe, At twenty-six, his childhood dreams came true when he was chosen to a d d a splash of colour to Absolut Vodka's high-profile a d campaign. This incredible good fortune catapulted the 'unknown artist into the limelight, placing him alongside artists such as Andy Warhol and Keith Haring. Other commissions followed: Grand Marnier, Pepsi Cola, Disney IBM, Apple Computers and many more, ensuring that his distinctive style was recognised by millions world-wide. Collaborations with leading fashion designers extended his range, and his work was acquired by Michael Jordan, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Whitney Houston - to name just a few celebrities - as well as by the Guggenheims, Kennedys and Mitterands. Today, at thirty-six and settled in the States, the heir apparent of neo-pop cubism holds an oxlraordinarily bright future in the palms of his talented hands.

Dance of Hearts, 1999, Mural Painting for the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, 122 x 305cm

The label neo-pop cubism clearly indicates Britto's links with certain artists and antecedent styles. Pop Art was a movement emerging somewhat independently on both sides of the Atlantic between 1955 and 1965, as artists incorporated into their work images of popular culture taken from the mass media of cinema, television, comics and advertising. With its roots in Dada and Surrealism, Pop was a reaction against the prevailing artistic modes of the post-war western world (Neo-Romanticism in Britain and Abstract Expressionism in the States). The style flourished because, as one critic put it "imagery intended for the fleeting consideration of a mass audience said more about contemporary attitudes than easel paintings executed for the careful reflection of visitors to a museum/ While British artists such as Paolozzi, Richard Hamilton and the early Hockney formed Pop's vanguard, it was the Americans such as Lichtenstein, Rosenquist and Warhol who best defined the genre. British Pop reflected a preoccupation with the allure of American culture; the Americans, growing up within it, knew better how to subvert it, exploiting the advertising industry's Midas touch for their own artistic (and sometimes self-promoting) ends.
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Secret Garden, 1997, Acrylic on Canvas, 76 x 102cm Private Collection

That there are Cubist elements in Britto's work should hardly surprise; few artists in modern times have escaped the long shadows cast by Picasso and Braque. Britto's style, with its figures formed of bright geometric shapes sharing a common plane with a kaleidoscope of background colours, has assimilated aspects of both Analytical and Hermetic Cubism. Specific references abound. The Queen Chess (1988) a n d the early mixed media collages confirm an admiration for Picasso. The One and Only (1997) and the later still lifes show Britto's work revelling in that vital energy that was the hallmark of Matisse while Van Britto acknowledges the influence of the great Dutchman. As Britto's individual style matured, a playful profusion of graffiti marks - scribbled flowers a n d spontaneous whorls - c a m e to overlay the primary coloured stripes and polka dots. The most inventive of these designs transform the glyphs of the artist's

signature Into semi-abstract patterns of great ingenuity. When Britto decorated an entire Ferrari with these trademark signs, the stunningly effective result was a measure of just how far Pop Art had a d v a n c e d since the days of Warhol signing tins of Campbell's Soup. The boldness of Britto's style indicates other advances too. In refurnishing second-hand images with alternative contexts Pop fell a frequent prey to nostalgia. Britto's art could not be more different. His work overflows with an exuberant vitality and self-confidence seldom seen in western art since Cubism - following the scientific discoveries of its time - threw modern art history into a paroxysm of uncertainty. Perhaps the most heartening aspect of Britto's art is its unrestrainedly optimistic outlook on life, exhorting the viewer to rejoice a n d to c a t c h each winged moment

Doituj lain 7i. 1998, Silkscreen, I (lili< >n of 300 on Paper, 9 ! x I ( M e m

as it flies. Nor is this an affected cheerfulness that ignores pain a n d sadness, but rather a positive determination in the face of difficulty a brave refusal to transmit to others the negative energy of despair. Having experienced the grinding struggles of poverty at first hand Britto employs his wholly affirmative art as a counteractive force, using his access to an international audience to highlight problematical issues of concern to all: the destruction of the Amazon rain-forests, the intractable problem of AIDS and the plight of sick a n d handicapped children. Over the years Britto has lent his charismatic energies to many philanthropic causes, working with organisations such as Amnesty International, Earth Tr< ill I and the American Red Cross, and using his influence and resources to bring hope to sick and disadvantaged children. Britto's playful work brightens many a hospital wall, and his latest visit to London will see a large-scale painting unveiled in Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, a world centre for paediatric care. In 1858, Charles Dickens raised £3000 for the Children's Hospital with a staged reading of A Christmas Carol and in 193/, J. M. Barrie bequeathed the rights to Peter Pan to ensure a continuous stream of royalty donations as long as that children's classic finds a sympathetic audience. In designing a vibrant painting to hang in the Children's Hospital, Romero Britto joins an illustrious line of artists committed to using their talents to foster that most valuable (and vulnerable) of all resources essential to a brighter, more colourful world - the children. © Gerard A. Houghton, April, 1999


1996 Galleria Prova, Tokyo, Japan Art Americas, Nan Miller Gallery, Miami, Florida, USA Stricoff Fine Art Gallery, New York, NY, USA 1995 Fay Gold Gallery, Atlanta, Georgia New Trends Hong Kong Nan Miller Gallery, Hong Kong Suppan Fine Arts, Vienna, Austria 1994 Art Miami, Nan Miller Gallery, Miami, Florida, USA Kass Meridian Gallery, Chicago, IL, USA Harrington Gallery, Vancouver, Canada 1993 FIAC, Le Grande Palais, Kass/Meridian Gallery, Paris, France Art Asia, Kass/Meridian Gallery, Hong Kong Art Chicago, Kass/Meridian Gallery, Chicago, IL, USA Arte Fiera, Kass/Meridian Gallery, Bologna, Italy 1992 Stricoff Fine Art Gallery, New York, NY, USA Candido Mendes Cultural Centre, Rio d e Janeiro, Brazil The Rocky Aoki Collection, Tokyo, Japan 1991 De Graaf Gallery, Chicago, IL, USA Candide Gallery, Atlanta, GA, USA Coral Gables Fine Art Gallery, Miami, Florida, USA 1990 - 1986 The Mayfair Gallery, Miami, Florida, USA Wirtz Gallery, Miami, Florida, USA Queen Charlotte Hall, London, England Offens Atelier, Erlagen, Germany Public Works Department, Strangnas, Sweden SOLO MUSEUM SHOWS Museu Nacional d e Belas Artes - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1998 Museu d e Belas Artes e Historia - San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1998

Born in 1963, in Recife, Brazil SELECTED SOLO SHOWS 1999 The October Gallery, London, England Studio at Long Grove, Chicago, USA New York Art Expo, New York, NY, USA 1998 Pop International, New York, NY USA Hermann Krause, Munich, Germany Nan Miller Gallery, Rochester, New York Karen Jenkins Johnson, San Francisco, California, USA. Galleria Prova, Tokyo, Japan Nature Gallery, Tumon, Guam Galerie Jaeschke, Braunschweig, Germany Galerie Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil 1997 Sky Art, Knokke, Belgium American Art Company, Tacoma, Washington, USA Vancouver International Arts Exhibition, Vancouver, Canada Galleria Prova, Tokyo, Japan Suppan Fine Art, Vienna, Austria Odakyu Museum, Tokyo, Japan Star Gallery, Bern, Switzerland

Swing, 1999, Silkscreen, Edition of 300 on Paper, 51 x 64cm

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