If you are not a poet or if you are lacking even a small amount of affinity to poetry or literature, you will hardly get to the essence of story of two characters from the title. Both of them have a kind of fascinating magic. The first one – the real one – is artist, poet and collector Antonio Segui, while the other one is fictional but nevertheless sympathetic and alive in the artistic works, the unwritten literature of the preceding one. The meeting will take place in the CHAOS Gallery in mid-September 2010.
Antonio Segui – one of the most famous Argentinean living artists or the French artist with Argentinean roots, member of the magnificent generation which we have already been introduced to by the works of Erro, Dado, Pignon and Velickovic – comes to visit us and to present a modest collection of his works on paper, which is certainly a great honour for our gallery as well as for our country and its culture. Segui’s works are exhibited in numerous important collections and museums all around the world, on all five continents, including our Museum of Contemporary Art. He had already exhibited in Belgrade two times: in 1969. in the Kolarcev Univerzitet Gallery, and in the late the 90’s on the Graphics Centre of the Faculty of Fine Arts.
Last spring, during our visit to his atelier in Arcueil (southern suburbs of Paris), we had the opportunity to see numerous works from his huge opus, done in great variety of techniques and in different periods: drawings, large paintings, sculptures, collages, pastiches and murals, as well as all kinds of graphic prints: lithographs, photo-lithographs, aquatints, aquarelle-aquatints, linocuts, serigraphs, copperplates, xylographs, monotypes, engravings made with charcoal in manner of primitive rudeness, somewhat schematized, with rough, fat lines. But what especially attracted our attention was his omnipresent DRAWING. He has drawn a lot, and we have learned that he had started doing it very early. He was drawing relentlessly, with pencil and quill, and later with oil crayons, and drawing has become his passion. He did not use it as a preparation for a painting, nor in order to make representation of some sight or a real scene. His works were born from a need which interlaced an emotion with a hand-drawing stroke, an expressive impulse with a vision, a will with a skill, and all of that was done through an endless game, humorous comments and obvious author’s pleasure. ‘For me, the art is, above everything, a pleasure’, he used to say.
His artistic language, abstract or rich with abstract elements at the very beginning and soon afterwards totally figurative, mostly dedicated to the human, especially male figures, was changing accordingly with certain cycles but not in its very essence. It did not allow repeating or the work with the same materials. Changes of subject demanded changes in technique. Drawing construction always was the basis of every work. He was not interested in reality, but in the banality of life and unpredictability of movements, the euphoria of everyday life. It was of no importance where he would start a composition. He was playing with perspective, form, letters or part of the sentences embedded into the basic layer. The works were densely full or totally simple, gestural, such are the most recent ones, which he has chosen for this occasion.
In spite of large freedom he always allows to himself, Antonio Segui is almost a classic. In spite of his proximity to pop-art and comics, especially in the way of spacing his figures, sometimes even surrealistically cut or decapitated, he is, above all, figural conceptualist, persistent creator of the very unique world which he passionately created from his artistic beginning until nowadays.
His Senor Gustavo – often present in his paintings, drawings and graphics, is always in hurry, dressed in suit, with flapping tie and Panama hat – represents the human presence, the entire manhood, as well as the hope that the identity has not been erased totally, that there is a chance of existence of some kind of recognition, some kind of sense. Funny Senor Gustavo, enlarged or tiny, with his rounded eyes like on the masks and sculptures of the pre-Columbian and African pieces, always with narrow, cold or slightly opened lips, always in motion, enters or exits the frame, runs or dances tango, always confused, caricatural and slightly lost. He is aimlessly determined, self-important, bureaucratically faceless in his blandness, emotionless like a yuppie or kind, but always provocative. Antihero. Archetype of ordinary. Underneath the urban nightmare, we can feel the artist’s tenderness towards human life. The very same Senor Gustavo, the one from the title, the main character of Segui’s work, represents everybody of us, the whole world. Human comedy never stops and Segui sublimes that in his own way – humorously, gently and skilfully. Senor Antonio puts his favourite hero in the special context, in that part of the focus that becomes his credo or, as he said, his own personal utopia. Senor Gustavo is primarily element of the architecture of the picture, the main characteristic of the author’s handwriting, as much as the lines he uses to outline the shapes, as much as his feeling for the colour, so important for the Latin American. This is why his spectrum changed according to the moods within the series of the works. His preoccupations are almost always pictorial and plastic. It is our role to understand and translate Senor Gustavo and his environment, the whole Segui’s world, and to continue the story, to find the essence of the message if there is one, to feel the intention and power of poetry made by the artist ‘armed for any kind of artistic guerilla..."