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covers and copies

My relationship with Tropicália was not limited to LP covers. The record companies already knew how much investment each artist was worth. So they decided on the cover artist at the start. It was cheap and convenient for the company. When we arrived, we did so as a group: ‘We’ve already got our own team. We’ve got the guy who’s going to do the cover, the guy who’s going to write the liner notes, etc. I mean, we were the head and the heart’. The integration was on this level. The first LP cover I did was the cover of Caetano Veloso’s LP with “Alegria, alegria”. It was kind of ready made because that illustration was a pattern, like certain kinds of medieval etchings with a dragon that come from a painting by Rafael. Afterwards it becomes a popular etching, and then a cliché and lots of artists work with the design, the subject, like what happened with poetry. On that occasion I used an already existing work, and used a metalanguage with it, even using photography. It was a profanity of the work of art, but it was highly praised because it was more colorful and had a more developed production than what was normally used for albums. A guy from São Paulo who had praised the cover, looking at it more deeply, but only a lot later, found out where I’d got it from. So then he writes an entire page criticizing me and calling me a plagiarist. Caetano was quite annoyed, and in his innocent sort of way said: ‘Rogério, you’ve got to fight back, because the guy’s calling you a plagiarist’. A while later, when we discovered the Campos brothers and the great contribution of avant-garde culture to concretism, my work was revealed to be an industrial side of the visual arts, the same kind of work that Andy Warhol and so many others validated and consolidated.

All professionals working in visual programming have to have various sources. I had seen my work as being typically popular illustration. Except the graphic language I used was completely different. If, for example, the work that I used as inspiration was gouache with soft nuances of color, I would use strong colors, in a varied graphic process and plastic reality. In a general way, this could be seen as plagiarism. My proposal as a person working with images is not academic. My basis at that time was as an artist, using a new language. Initially, one does not understand the new language very well, because the understanding is based on pre-established categories, none of which are really suited to the new language and comparisons are made with things of a different nature.

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