Sergio Camargo - BRIC London Thursday, April 14, 2011 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist by the previous owner; Private Collection

  • Catalogue Essay

    Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1930, Constructivist sculptor Sergio Camargo was educated in Buenos Aires under the tutelage of Emilio Pettoruti and Lucio Fontana, two abstract artists who greatly influenced him. After a short sojourn in Paris where he encountered modernist masters Constantin Brancusi and Jean Arp, Camargo returned to Brazil. Here he became a pivotal member of the Constructivist movement, focusing on geometric abstraction and the interplay of contrasting lines and shapes. This new approach to spatial volume is what formed the foundation of Camargo’s later sculptures, specifically his signature wood reliefs.
    The present lot, Relief (1970), belongs to Sergio Camargo’s important Relief series. These reliefs are characterized by the interplay of light and dark, and by the contrast of smooth lines with angular projections. The breadth of his education and inspiration is made manifest in this series through his appropriation of Kinetic art concepts and Spatialist constructions. For instance, a comparison can be drawn between Camargo’s Reliefs and Fontana’s Slash series, the only difference being that whereas Fontana uses colour to contrast the negative space, Camargo uses white three-dimensional cylinders. Both Camargo and Fontana employ a sense of pure abstraction to create a modulating dynamic between the tactile and the ocular, perfection and disruption.
    Relief (1970) is slightly smaller and less ‘chaotic’ than many of the other works in Camargo’s series, as the viewer is presented with a more obvious contrast between the flat background and the two white wooden cylinders projecting from the board. Camargo has left a thick border of unpainted wood framing the smaller and more angular white board inside it; the reductive flatness of these boards contrasts starkly with the materiality of the two central cylinders, both spatially and conceptually. The cylinders seem to grow out of the board, creating an interesting juxtaposition between their affinity in colour and their contrasting shape and finish. The depth of Relief (1970) is further heightened by the purity of the white cylinders and by Camargo’s use of just a single pair. In contrast to many other works in this series, this minimal use of wooden cylinders draws the eye directly to the centre of the piece, leaving the white background as a frame of silence for their architectural forms. Their three-dimensionality is then further muffled by the presence of the dark wooden frame, which fights for the attention of the viewer’s gaze.
    The kinetic experiences that Camargo creates in his wooden reliefs can be seen as a result of his exploration of abstraction as the pure interplay of geometric shapes. The eye becomes confused when confronted by the tactile three-dimensionality of the projecting cylinders, resulting in a sensory experience that truly challenges the viewer’s perception of form.

  • Artist Biography

    Sergio Camargo

    Brazilian • 1930 - 1990

    Sergio Camargo was a Brazilian artist known for his sculptures, wall-based reliefs and architectural commissions. Born in Rio de Janeiro, he studied in Buenos Aires and Paris before returning to Brazil in 1950 at which point he became familiar with the Constructivist movement. During the 1960s and 1970s his work became dominated by wooden, terracotta, marble and stone forms, cylindrical or cuboid in shape, jutting out in relief with geometric precision from monochrome white surfaces. The interjecting lines created across the white surfaces by shadow and light evoke the interplay of alternating modes of rationality and chaos, fullness and emptiness. The three-dimensional constructions are meticulous in their use of color and form, simultaneously minimalist in order and expansive in their study of volume and light.

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Painted wood.
61 x 56 x 15 cm (24 x 22 x 6 in).
Signed and dated 'Camargo 70' on the reverse.

£80,000 - 120,000 

Sold for £229,250


14 - 15 April 2011