From the dawn of art, painters have extracted their colors from their surrounding world: from the ashes of the bonfire, from insects, from the soil, from plants and seeds, from everything hiding some precious pigment. The discovery of new sources for new colors eventually brought changes to our perception. The enrichment of the chromatic palette affected and transformed art, as did technical innovations. It is a known fact, for example, that the invention of paint tubes in 1841 allowed for the use of brighter, more intense colors, while it also made possible to paint outdoors. No one better than the Impressionists to take advantage of these new circumstances.
The search for new colors, and the possibilities that they offer to artists, is part of Juan José Cambre’s meticulous and perfectionist output. In the case of his recent paintings, colors do not come about as a result of mixtures or combinations, but rather from overlays. It is a sort of elementary and, simultaneously, mathematical game: the pieces are created from vertical stripes that overlap and generate new hues. After a while, you find out that you are looking at a color you are unable to determine or that its vibration is unknown to you. It is a question of colors that are complex, weaved, and made of overlapping layers on top of one another. New colors in the world for paintings that believe in abundance and rejoice with it. If, according to Deleuze, the philosopher is first and foremost a creator of concepts, Cambre seems to define the painter’s role as the creator of colors, as well as of new relationships between them.
In four decades of work, Cambre’s paintings have gone through several phases. An expressionist period during the 1980s, followed by a series of vessels for more than a decade and, later, by paintings of lights and shadows between trees starting in 2000. Juan Jose Cambre never deviates his focus of attention away from color, by means of subtle, elegant shapes.
Fiesta, the title of Cambre’s first solo exhibition in the City of Miami, alludes to a specific idea: both art and celebration invite you to enter a time of unadulterated present. It is the creation of a parallel space that sways the senses into perceiving subtle overlaps of colors, vibrations, repetitions, and differences. The choice of vibrant and overflowing colors coexists with the restrained rationality in the composition, in which the artist sometimes uses the golden ratio. The choice of basic shapes, such as the square and the rectangle, goes hand in hand with the commitment to the sort of beauty that does not stem from saturation or addition, but rather from the sophistication of simplicity.
Juan José Cambre (b. 1948, Argentina) has been one of the most important artists in Argentina’s art scene for the last forty years. Among his most notable solo exhibitions are the following: Mano de obra, Colección Amalia Lacrozede Fortabat, 2017; Desde el paisaje, Museo Caraffa, Córdoba, and Museo Castagnino-MACRO, Rosario, 2014; Cromática, MACBA, 2013; and Novum Ovum, Universidad Torcuato Di Tella, 2012. His work has been exhibited internationally in Milan, San José de Costa Rica, and New York. Cambre’s first major retrospective was held at the Centro Cultural Recoleta in 2008, following the presentation of a book about his artistic career to date. In 2016, he was included among the artists selected for Phaidon’s book, Vitamin P3: New Perspectives in Painting. His works can be found in numerous museums as well as in private collections. He lives and works in Buenos Aires, Argentina.