Ariel Mlynarzewicz (1964 - )

Gardel y Razzano (1985)
Gardel and Razzano

Etching and aquatint on paper
height: 50cm
width: 32.5cm

Donated by Ariel Mlynarzewicz 1996


Carlos Gardel emerged as a popular idol and symbol of Buenos Aires and the tango. Many artists return to this iconic figure as a starting point in their work. The singer artistic successes however, were only made possible due to his collaboration with songwriters, musicians and lyricists, who received little of the spotlight occupied by the wave of popular fascination held by Gardel . Two of ‘El Zorzal criollo’s (the popular nickname given to Gardel inspired by the Zorzal species of songbird from Argentina) closest collaborators were the guitarist and singer José Razzano, early in his career, and then in his later years the writer Alfredo La Pera who died with him in the 1935 plane crash in Medellín, Colombia.

Carlos Gardel and José Razzano met in late 1911, and shortly afterwards formed a duo singing Argentine folk music from the countryside and playing guitar. According to Simon Collier, the relationship with Razzano from then onwards was the most important one in el Zorzal’s life for some years. After Gardel sang a solo rendition of the tango “Mi noche triste” (My sad night) in 1917, the two musicians gradually began to incorporate tango music into their repertoire. The duo was eventually dissolved in 1925 due to Razzano’s persistent throat problems. As a result, Gardel began to establish his own solo career as a tango singer. The relationship between the two continued for a number of years during which Razzano managed el Zorzal’s rising career. Over time, however, the relationship between the two began to collapse due to resentment and doubt.

Ariel Mlynarzewicz’s etching Gardel and Razzano was based on an iconic photograph of the duo taken in Mar del Plata, a famous Argentine seaside resort that had its heyday during the first decades of the 20th century. The photograph is from the golden era of the friendship between the two singers. In the etching there are similarities to the original photograph, in both they are linked at the arm and in a similar stance, with one foot in front of the other; Gardel wears a tie while Razzano wears a bow tie. Similarities aside, Mlynarzewicz does introduce some changes to the depiction in the original photograph. Highlights and shadows are accentuated in the etching emulating the contrast which marked the relationship between the two singers. The placement of the two is inverted, in the etching Razzano is on the left and Gardel on the right. The Mar del Plata background shown in the photograph has disappeared. In the etching space-time referents are blurred and the figures emerge as if outside of space as icons of an artistic partnership and friendship that became a major institution in Argentine culture.

Text by Dulce María Dalbosco

Translated by Max Turner &
Sebastian Bustamante-Brauning

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