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Antonio Berni introduces Rodrigo Bonome’s exhibition of landscape paintings at the Galería Velázquez in Buenos Aires (1961) with a formal discussion on order in composition, and on color.
Antonio Berni was born in Rosario, Provincia de Santa Fe, in 1905 and died in Buenos Aires in 1981. Berni went to Europe in 1925 to study art. He settled in Paris, where he became involved with the Surrealist avant-garde and began exploring the Communist theories that were in vogue at the time. On his return to Argentina, he arranged an exhibition of his Surrealist works at the Asociación Amigos del Arte in 1932. A year later, Berni joined the Equipo Polígrafo (the group founded by [Mexican artist] David Alfaro Siqueiros), which created the mural called Ejercicio Plástico [Plastic Exercise]. His theory of Nuevo Realismo [New Realism], an artistic expression of political and social commitment, evolved out of his vision of transcendent realism. In 1944, Berni founded the Taller de Arte Mural [Mural Art Workshop]. During the 1950s he produced a number of paintings that depicted rural life, set mainly in the northern Argentine province of Santiago del Estero. These were, in fact, the first chapters in his narrative series of collages featuring his character Juanito Laguna. In 1962 he was awarded the grand prize for print and drawing at the Venice Biennale. The following year he began his Ramona Montiel series. During the ‘60s and ‘70s—while continuing to produce paintings, collages, and prints—he created objects, installations, and happenings, and explored stylistic variations in the field of realistic figuration.This essay is of interest because it provides an opportunity to scrutinize Berni’s writing about an artist like Bonome, a landscape painter from the province of Córdoba, Argentina. Berni chooses to write a formal review in which he defines "order" as that which gives structure to any good painting. This conservative idea, applied to a minor artist, is relevant because it was written in 1961, a critical year in which the visual arts in Argentina were dominated by young avant-garde artists who were exploring either Informalism or Other Figuration. Rodrigo Bonome (1906-1990) had, since the 1920s, enjoyed a long association with the Galería Witcomb, the precursor to the Galería Velázquez. He was also an essayist and an art critic.