By Lucia Viti
The journey of Bankers Hill’s emerging surrealist artist
Dani Camargo believes that he was born to be an artist. Boasting larger-than-life, ethereal and abstract forms that tantalize the imagination, one would be hard-pressed to disagree.
Unique to say the least, the Bankers Hill resident paints with colored pencils and wax pastels, tools often uncommon in the world of fine art. While seeking to convey ideas “free of form” but full of collaboration, the self-described intellectual creative purposefully uses his art for interpretation and wonder.
He frequently poses the question: “How does the piece speak to you?”
Reflection spearheads Camargo’s artistic endeavors. He uses a great deal of energy to tap into a mystical zone, a trancelike mindset that serves as the blueprint for creating his version of imperfect art.
“While I appreciate details, I don’t want my work to be too perfect, so detailed, that it looks like Photoshop,” Camargo said. “I like simple forms. I combine the element of simplicity with things that are complex. I think it reads well.”
He said his ritual begins on a blank canvas and evolves into an “exercise of listening to the white.” Void of preconceived images or ideas, he explains that his pieces are predestined for him to complete.
“I make elements and colors,” he said. “I never know what will come to life. These pieces already exist in a parallel reality. Every piece becomes itself.”
Driven by the power of love and the shadows present in humankind, Camargo intentionally depicts opposing forces between light and darkness, affording viewers the opportunity to witness the ying and yang of love, power and strength of helping others.
“Love is seen through light and dark shadows,” he added. “Both are powerful aspects of human nature.”
Working hours upon hours is routine for Camargo because he gets lost in his work. His spiritual mission is a “constant and reckless search for beauty and truth, like finding a hidden treasure.”
“My art becomes a bigger-than-life world at the cost of my own personal cathartic exercise,” he continued.
While acknowledging that his inspiration is of divine ordinance, Camargo remains both humbled and inspired by other famous artists including Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali; H.R. Giger, a Swiss painter and an Academy Award winner for his design work on the “Aliens” franchise; and M.C. Escher, a Dutch graphic artist who made woodcuts, lithographs and mezzotints from mathematical equations.
“The beauty of their work reflects my inner self,” Camargo said. “Movies like ‘E.T.,’ ‘Avatar,’ ‘The Neverending Story’ and ‘Labyrinth’ with Bowie and Escher also impact me. I’m inspired by the fascinating amount of life forms concentrated on earth and in galaxies far beyond the human spectrum.”
Camargo grew up in Southern Brazil, an area he describes as diverse and nature-abundant. Surrounded by a family of artists, architects, painters, designers, poets, and writers, his childhood and teenage years were spent “intrinsically involved with art.”
“I was a hyperactive kid so the only way my mom could make me stop for hours was to draw,” he said.
Upset by natural catastrophes caused by human error — including the likes of oil spills and chemical contaminations — Camargo remembers creating storyboards as a teenager depicting a planet where all living things would transform within the 24 hours the earth rotated on it axis.
Camargo received Superior Degrees in Industrial Design, Graphic Arts and a bachelor’s degree in architecture from EMBAP, University of Fine Arts, Curitiba, in Brazil. He worked as a designer and an architect until a desire to study English and a passion for surfing landed him in San Diego when he was 26 years old.
Within a year, he moved to San Francisco to serve as an architect for the same Canadian firm he worked for in Brazil. Ten years later, he moved back to San Diego after taking a stroll through Balboa Park while visiting. Today, the architect by day juggles artistry between his family and life, often working into the early hours of the morning creating art.
“Architecture pays my bills as I work to achieve financial independence as an artist,” he said.
Camargo nods at the last decade for producing his most mature work and raising his level of artistry. He notes that one piece, entitled “Reflections,” exposes his desire — and constant struggle — to emerge as an independent artist.
“‘Reflections’ reminds me of what I want to be and where I want to go,” he said. “As the piece progresses, I rise until I get to the top. The top represents the future. I’ve arrived.”
In addition to his paintings and clay sculptures, Camargo accepts commission work, such as images imposed on surfboards, snowboards and T-shirts.
“People who love my work commission me to paint on something they own,” he said
Future plans include completing larger pieces, working with oils and casting sculptures in bronze. Camargo has been featured in several collective and solo exhibitions throughout Brazil and the U.S.
—Contact Lucia Viti at email@example.com.