In this review of the exhibition of works by the painter Iberê Camargo (1914–94) in Rio de Janeiro, the art critic [José Ribamar] Ferreira Gullar (b. 1930) rejects the “informal abstractionism” label that some attached to Camargo’s work. Informal painting or “tachisme”—a fashion that was in vogue from the mid-1950s until 1970 in Brazil—had already been criticized by artists and intellectuals who were committed to geometrical abstraction (Gullar himself, among others) because it emphasized the use of gestures that were spontaneously repeated or were not genuinely free during the creation of the work. Iberê Camargo, who never joined any specific movement throughout his entire career, was an autonomous artist; that is, he never even resorted to abstraction, much less figuration, as languages to use in his painting. Brazilian critics such as Mário Pedrosa (1900–81) nonetheless claimed, in a 1958 essay, to see a hint of “tachisme” in Camargo’s work, and a totally “de-objectified” form of abstraction.
Iberê Camargo produced the drawings that were featured in the exhibition at the Acervo gallery, reviewed by Gullar, while he was imprisoned at the Marechal Caetano de Farias barracks in Rio de Janeiro, charged with murder. He was quickly found not guilty by reason of legitimate self-defense. Most of the drawings in question are of scenes in the interior patio of the prison, and a couple of them—entitled Tranca rua—are a coded reference to the name of a man who had been condemned for the murder of indigent street people.
In reference to this matter, see by Mário Pedrosa, “Iberê Camargo,” Jornal do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro, June 7, 1958.