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Follow, follow, the little men of Antonio Seguí

Antonio Seguí's imagery is a lucid reflection always in force. Cordovan artist, among the best sellers in the world, who makes us laugh and suffer with national types and mines.

Antonio Seguí (Córdoba, 1934) is an Argentine artist who  transpolates reality the existential situations of humanity and returns us an absurd and parodic mirror that invites the question and action  “Correct customs, laughing at them” seems to be the maxim of a demiurgo who works his little circles and lunatic landscapes in paintings and sculptures, several that won the public space, but whose engraving focuses his intense production, as demonstrated in a recent exhibition at the Museo Nacional del Engravado Argentinean after a decade of absence in our lands - the last had been the base exhibition for his donation of 122 works to the Museum of Modern Art in Buenos Aires in 2011 “Until a few years ago there was not too much interest in graphic work in general. I think new doors are now being opened, which give impetus to new techniques. At some point I had the idea of having a small museum of engraving, with 30 or 40 works, and taking them out for a walk through the towns of Cordoba.  Because that is the role of engraving: diffusion, that's why they are so easy to move. It is a technique that democratizes culture ,” said Seguí recently, who lives between Paris and Cordoba, and  never forgot its roots in the mountains, childhood with grandparents, to paint a world.  

His beginnings are in the workshop of master Ernesto Farina, the notable Cordovan painter of the “Generation of 40”, and an initial trip funded by the maternal grandmother, Ana Blasi Mayol, where he discovered the great artists in the Prado Museum and the latest trends, especially the material abstractionism and informalism. Vueldo a Córdoba works in judicial journalism and began law studies that he would progressively abandon with his first exhibitions in Paideia. From that period, militancy leaves a mark on frondist radicalism, not so much on issues, but in a political view that is inseparable from his work “ I love politics. But I had to choose between painting and politics and I stayed with painting... On the other hand, just as I did not understand how the artistic medium of Buenos Aires worked, nor did I understand how the political medium worked”, recalls Seguí  that settled in the After a revealing trip through Latin America, promoted by his Latin American friends in Europe, and learn the technique of engraving in Mexico and Guatemala. He participates in the founding exhibition of Destructive Art with Marta Minujin, among others, and in the Lirolay gallery in 1962 he exhibits a series of breakdown with respect to previous works, “La familia de Felicitas Naón”, in line with the neofiguration of Jorge de la Vega or Carlos Alonso. This narrative series dedicated to the decay of an aristocratic family presents the artist for the first time, within the framework of expressionism, the techniques of pop, typographic intervention and the cartoon  “From there he sharply raised the different social archetypes or polithe alienating circumstances of social life, of man isolated, locked up and away from nature,”  Jorge López Anaya said. With “Self-Portrait of Frustrated Vocations” (1963), an award for Jorge Romero Brest's vote for the Di Tella Institute, currently at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Seguí recounts his history as a political militant in an immense fabric with his face intervened, and with dates significant for radicalism as 1905, last radical revolution, and 1935, the return to elections during the Infamous Decade. Read as a comic book, the character mutates from a combative attitude, wrapped in a Hairy - as they said to Hipólito Yrigoyen - to a lightened freehand figure and blurred face.

He travels to Paris at the end of the year accompanying his first wife, classic dancer Graciela Martinez. Installed in Paris in  Antonio Berni 's workshop, the artist participates in a Parisian biennial and transforms into a bestseller, placed 13 of 15 paintings from the iconic series Felicitas Naon -an attention of the m ercado de arte  that continues because  in 2019 it sold in Buenos Aires “Caja de señores” (1963), one of the first in which appear his famous twenties in striped costumes and hats, for 224,000 dollars, and placed his 12th place among the  Argentine artists  alive best quoted  behind Guillermo Kuitca and Julio Le Parc. In the Old Continent exploits the maturity of the artist who, with humorism, brilliant chromatism and a dynamic composition, criticizes the interference of militarism, social inequalities and consumer society. There he starts with the sculptures of men and women with prominent bellies and noses.  The climate is thinned in the seventies with solitary characters and homeless animals, or men with their backs looking over a wall, for  example with lithographs from the series “Elephant in the Pampas” (1977) or the series “The distance from the gaze” (1976). Black and white is more present in the isolated figures and the use of  carborundum,  an engraving technique investigated by Tàpies and Miró that allows a fast and non-toxic print.

Since the eighties Seguí multiplied its characters in an unhinged urban landscape and expands its graphic series to reliefs and posters.  The chaos of the crowd and the lack of particularities, the death of subjectivity, exacerbate a tumultuous and disturbing familiarity.  Also his residence in Arcueil, in the suburbs of Paris and neighbourhood of his admired musician Erik Satie, is transformed into an obligatory point for Argentines because “the first thing I did in my workshop was a grill; it is still a workshop-quincho. I not only buy Argentinean meat, but I use Argentine charcoal. It is four times more expensive than French, but ten times more effective ”, admitted Celina Chatruc at  lanacion.com.ar .  Astor Piazzolla, Atahualpa Yupanqui, Jairo, the Sexteto Mayor, Mercedes Sosa, Horacio Salgán, among Argentines, many welcomed in harsh times of the dictatorship,  and Alejo Carpentier and Marcel Duchamp, among international legends, passed and sang. Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government, and member of the European Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters of France, are some of the merits that recognize the artistic influence of Cordovan. illustrator of the decade (2002)

 Seguí exceeds two hundred solo exhibitions worldwide, represented us at the Venice Biennale, won thirty-eight international awards, and his little men and urban and rural landscapes of Cordoba's childhood, are part of one hundred and twenty public and private collections around the world, such as the MOMA of New York or the Pompidou of France . The series of “La Familia Urbana” have become urban and sculptural landmarks in Argentina, while other similar works dazzle parks and walks in Colombia, France, Italy, Belgium, Portugal and Morocco. In Buenos Aires, a large mural was inaugurated in 2011 at the Independence Station of subterranos, another of his public interventions in giant murals such as the one that honors Saint Martin in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France “Humor is the only thing that will save us ever. I hope I never lose it,” said Antonio, the artist who narrates the misadventures of little men and small women made in our image and likeness. Any resemblance to the Cordobese stories of Seguí is not mere coincidence.

 Says Antonio Seguí 

“I think most of my work is the product of the memory of my childhood; there is the root of my playful sense and humor, in Cordoba. In Leoplan magazine I was inspired by Felicitas Naon's series, with which I participated in the Paris Youth Biennale, which was a bit the engine that left me anchored in this city. Later I did the series “To you, (who was born)” to make the story and the three-dimensional objects that came directly from  Billiken magazine... Let's say my food was the comic strips, political cartoons of when I was a child, the almanacs of Espadrilles my father brought, and so many things that come to my mind now! And it is that in Argentina we were never scarce as manufacturers of smiles, and this is something to vindicate, because we must not depart from our virtues. How to forget, moreover, how many times -Florence- Molina Campos made me dream?” Cristina Cabello interview reproduced in  tiempoar.com.ar 

 They say about Antonio Seguí 

“Antonio Seguí usually articulates endless combinations of small buildings and tragicomic characters that seem darned from one engraving to another as chapters of a larger narrative. As the characters jump from the most complex works and cut themselves, as much in detail as in solitude, they appear marked by an existential entity. From his engravings, populated with characters and elements such as buildings, mutilated animals and strange structures, there is a vigorous and virtuous vitalism, sometimes expressed with a grotesque brutality, and others with a concise simplicity... Antonio Seguí usually says that each of his works is a story, in which usually includes memories of his childhood and impressions of citizen life, hieratic characters - whether from tango (N. de R. the artist has a series dedicated to Carlos Gardel) or Argentine folklore - always in a humorous key” Laura Buccellato for the catalogue Antonio Seguí Engravados 1996-2010. Museum of Modern Art in Buenos Aires.

Rating: 5.00/5.