Museum of Novelties
Museum of Novelties, the new series of artworks by Marcelo Tinoco is an almost-everything. The formal transparency of photography is contradicted by the pictorial component that underlies the power and splendour of the images. The “almost” defines the blurring of borders between photography, painting and drawing, exponentiating and impelling figurative plasticity to an alternative reality that is not only imagistic, but also relative to procedures and concepts.
The artist has always started the creative process from his extensive image bank of documentary photographs collected especially on trips: landscapes, castles, the rural world, monuments, frescoes, works of art, and nature - trees with the most varied foliage and of different species. For the Museum of Novelties exhibition, he mainly photographs tropical gardens, references such as Burle Marx, the Botanical Garden of Rio de Janeiro and the Royal Botanic Garden, the famous Kew Garden, London, in which the tropical greenhouse has lakes of giant water lilies and lotus flowers. With a reasonable corpus of available data, Tinoco, using the possibilities of digital practices, begins his artistic fabulation. By Joining and juxtaposing a collage of fragments of cropped images he forms planes. These samples compose the great fictional panel of the final landscape. And the fictionalization gains mystery and spatial/temporal indeterminacy through the use of colour. Having determined the palette to be used – and in this case warm and cool colours in low tones – all works are worked within this spectrum, which results not only in the chromatic unity in the series but also in a somewhat unreal visuality. With a digital brush Tinoco draws, redraws, contours, paints, illuminates, adds elements, creating, through this playful mixture, a new imaginary landscape of great visual impact. Another procedure that gives unity to the collection is the use of the same sample in different works, thus the water lilies migrate from Ophelia and Venus to the landscapes, and the palm trees that appear in the Portrait of Mada Primavesi appear in the piece Burlemarxcromia I and II.
Appropriation and intertextuality are procedures already established in contemporary practices. Appropriation has a history that refers to the Duchampian act in the ready-mades. Intertextuality as an artistic modality is more recent; it becomes visible in the 1970s, and comes from the reproducibility of images through Photography and their accessibility through communication media. It seeks to recover distant and past texts in the present time, to make them current and inserted in the flow of life. Intertextuality is based on a dialogical relationship between past and present that allows the continuity of art. Warburg would call this pathosformel, or formulas of the pathetic, where the archaic is reborn in the present.
For this reason, History of Art is today an immense archive for research in the field of re-signification. Tinoco emphasizes that he starts from an affective feeling by appropriating themes and figures that represent standards of beauty in Art and transfers them to his surreal gardens. Beauty is a relative concept. Models of beauty immortalized in works of art change their values over time. Although we can admire the ethereal and idealized Beauty of Boticelli's Venus, we are dazzled by the more modern hairstyle of Marcelo Tinoco's Venus and her more elongated body, closer to the contemporary beauty of Barbies. There is a similarity that refers to the Renaissance artist, but subtle transformations occur. This game of discursive narration delights us. The recreated photos affect us exactly because there is empathy. Well-known figures set in extraordinary and unexpected circumstances produce a narrative digression causing pleasure in the recognition of these images that are part of a collective memory of the artistic universe. Thanks to the permissiveness of the digital world, codes can be altered: Ophelia, by Millais and Venus, by Botticelli can now float in another environment; Diego Lopez Garcia's Sevillana leaves her inner courtyard to rest in an open space. Tinoco, paraphrasing Benozzo Gozzoli performs a remix on the fresco from the east wall of the famous Magi series, in the Chapel of the Medici-Riccardi Palace, Florence. In On the Road to Montalcino, we see Lorenzo the Magnificent riding in a geometrized and monochromatic landscape instead of the rugged road of Gozzoli's work. The artist also edits the characters, in the original fresco, Lorenzo is followed by his father Piero II and grandfather Cozimo, but Tinoco chooses to replace both characters with the bearded knight of the south wall fresco whose posture is much more dignified and elegant than that of the Medici.
The polyphonic character of the construction leads to the peculiarities of Tinoco's poetics. The realistic, linear and Bressonian approach to photography is inappropriate for Tinoco's hybrid photos. The “decisive moment” is replaced by the multiple possibilities of the undetermined adventure, an open system in which the artist's relationship with Culture predominates – a carnivalesque worldview. For Bakhtin, the carnivalesque worldview “is endowed with a powerful life-giving and transforming force and an indestructible vitality” precisely because it does not stick to a rationality and dogmatism of norms, but revives the construction in experimentation and in the plurality of voices.​​​​​​​
At the Museum of Novelties, the artworks are syncretic forms of free contact between the old and the contemporary, the ideal and the real, the sacred and the profanity of norms; an eternal and inside-out world.

Nancy Betts

Feb 2020