Once upon a time...

Marcelo Tinoco

13/May/2014 – 07/Jun/2014

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    The photo-paintings-frames by Marcelo Tinoco. Once upon a time...

    The artist Marcelo Tinoco has been standing out with his remarkable photographic production, which brings us back to the refined and colorist way of painting the light and the imagery of the Renaissance landscapes by Flemish artists. In the works of the photographer, the images received the same detailed and refined colorist treatment, yet with a dose of beauty and good humor added to the portrayed contemporary scenes, giving them a touch of irrationality as they merge different epochs. The images merge stories through fine art photography, as a form of narrating time: once upon a time...

    In the new series 1900, Belle Époque Rural, on display at Zipper Gallery, the artist continues with the same workmanship and uses light as the main element of his images, as was done in the Impressionist movement originated in France in the late nineteenth century. The group of artists who formed this movement broke away from the prevailing canons of painting by going out to the field for inspiration, seeking natural light and the vibrations of nature radiated by the sun. Leaving aside their academic teachings, they painted nature in its chromatic variations, no longer concerned with faithfully portraying reality. These precepts inspired Marcelo Tinoco to seek to build the new images "frame by frame" through his own handmade process. Tinoco, in search of the same light that charmed Impressionists in the beginning of the last century, plans his travel so as to retrace the journey of these artists.

    The type of light used by Impressionists, the use of many plants and flowers at the edges of the photos as if ‘framing’ the scene, all refer to the Art Nouveau style. His thesis is that the inspiration for the artistic style of this movement would come from the countryside, from the peasants. To assert his theory, he seeks the roots of the movement by reverencing the rural environment, the home of the peasant. Marcelo Tinoco seeks to reconstruct the world as seen in films such as Fanny & Alexander and Wild Strawberries, by Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman, both of which faithfully portray the society of the time.

    The experimental photography by Marcelo Tinoco comes of age as he pushes the boundaries of record, leading the image to an era of post-digital production: he manipulates the photograph so as to suggest timeless and fantastic situations - which were not there before. He merges into the same photo two or more paintings recalling the past, resulting in surreal images of time.

    Initially, to achieve these results, and in search of the perfect light for the object of his portrait, he captures images at certain times of day, as did the Impressionist painters; then he reconstructs them on the computer screen, turning photography into a fictional condition, a sort of fantastic realism. By superimposing, cropping and completing the images with software resources, the photographs produce an extraordinary beauty which narrates fantastic stories, intoxicating to our eyes. The real becomes hyper-real, even surreal, by blending, in one image, the notions of painting with cinematic and theatrical images.

    In fact, what is most eye-catching is precisely the beauty of these photographs resulting from a filmic thought in overlapping frames. Unlike a film which links frames to give the notion of movement, Tinoco’s frames are superimposed, freezing the narrative or scene from different movements or moments in a single bold frame, dense with information. They create a photographic condition that messes with our minds, with our imagery of distant epochs, intertwined with current situations. They produce visual sensations through the exuberant intensity of the colors used. They seek to highlight human expressions and conditions, merging the contemporary with the past.

    Given these images, we must ask ourselves if indeed this work is photography or painting. It is an inevitable question at first glance, when one comes across the images created by Tinoco. Or is it just about a professional photographer who ventures into artistic photography in times when traditional brushes have been replaced by digital cameras, and canvasses replaced by computer screens and all of its image manipulation features?

    They are but new features which provide the photographer with the same pictorial possibilities of an ink palette, vibrant colors that would be spread over a cotton fabric and painted by brushes. And in the impressionist fashion, the photographer goes in search of his landscapes to be portrayed in their most vibrant colors. In the artist's own words, his search is aware of the precedents of the Impressionist painters in the 1900, Belle Époque Rural series.

    The images also bear the name of the locations where the photos were taken, as in Shakespeare in Bento - Bento Gonçalves, 2013, from the series Hyper!, where the artist sets out to find locations in touristic towns such as this, located in Serra Gaucha, and where the images are made for contemplation.

    Today we are witnessing the reflection of a phenomenon which began in the 1990’s, whereby the photographic language was fully incorporated by art, and which allowed photographers, many years later, to assimilate photography as artistic language, and to extrapolate the notion of registry to capture more than the observed reality. This can be seen in the series Hyper! which has a more graphic appeal. In these images, hyper is in everything: hyper-busy, hyper-refined, hyper-beautiful, hyper-absurd. It goes beyond what is recorded. It is also an interpretation of the physical world, recording its transformations and the human condition.

    His photography becomes primarily a lyrical narrative seeing the world through the ‘eye’ of a camera, which at times is a wandering eye. An eye which is always building a visual diary in chronicle form, as the photographer accumulates his images in time.

    It is a way of seeing the world - and not exactly the real way we see the world, with our own eyes. It is a new approach to a broader reality, through a contemporary photography free of norms, free from having to always be a loyal record of reality.

    Ricardo Resende, 2014 

    Critical essay