Violencia (Violence)

Juan Carlos Romero

Avellaneda, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1931 - Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2017
  • Date: 
    1973-1977 (2011)
  • Technique: 
    Typographic print and digital print on paper
  • Descriptive technique: 
    Installation consisting of twenty-four typographical colour posters and forty-eight black and white digital prints
  • Dimensions: 
    Overall: 1,5 m x 14 m
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Juan Carlos Romero begins his artistic work in abstract-geometric prints within the international current of kinetic art. Nevertheless, his intellectual interests steer him progressively towards graphic experimentation that views multiple embossing as a poetic-political tool for social agitation. His pursuit of widespread recognition for his works and a rejection of official artistic circuits led to public interventions with a highly charged critical message that demanded direct action by spectators. Romero himself commented in 1972: "My conceptual pieces are targeted at the participation of spectators-actors in themes related to the reality of the nation," something which did not seem possible within an institutional framework. The installation Violencia (Violence, 1973-1977/2011), today housed inside the Museum, derives from this line of action and is the result of a four-year-long project, during which Romero enriches the complexity of his initial approach as presented in 1973. In it several strategies are condensed which have been developed over the length of his career and to which he has returned time and again: the appropriation of images taken from the media by use of photography, and the politically themed typographic poster. The printed word VIOLENCIA is positioned like a frieze whose tautological repetition functions as a strategy that aggressively appeals to the spectator. Under the frieze there is a complex montage of cites taken from literary, political and philosophical sources, together with images and headlines from the tabloid newspaper Así, filled with scenes stemming from the repressive violence of government forces. It is well known that Romero was influenced by the writings of philosophers such as Jean-Paul Sartre and, especially, Fantz Fanon, who was highly influential among the left-wing intellectual elite of the seventies, and for whom the violence suffered by colonised and oppressed peoples could only be resolved through armed conflict. This current of thought was especially influential in the context of an Argentina that had been continuously subjected to military dictatorships throughout this period. Through his work, Romero reformulates the division between art and politics, analysing the role of the artist and his capacity for enacting social change.

Lola Hinojosa