Excellent portraits of Armando Cairo in Zienagoog

Excellent portraits of excellencies are the characteristic part of the work of Amsterdam painter/graphic Armando Cairo shows in De Zienagoog. The portraits of the Dutch minister J. van Kemenade, and secretaries of state G.H. Veringa and G. Klein of the Ministry of Education and Science from the former cabinet, show Cairo at his best.

His portraits are - and so it should with a good portrait - more than a recognizable portrayal of the person. From the portrait one can read the subjects character and slowly the portrait exceeds the photograph. These portraits, an assignment in the tradition of the ministry, are not always flattering. Secretary of State Ger Klein is portrayed as a, pretty skimpy looking man and his superior Van Kemenade appears to carry the burden if the whole ministry on his shoulders, almost succumbing by the load.

It's the vision of the artist, although practice learns, that such a quality often is more obvious to the audience than the painter was aware of himself. The portrait takes an important place in the work of Cairo. And the drawings, with their strict lines even stronger than his brush-strokes, that due to their refinement sometimes appear a bit unnatural.

The development of the work of the 26-year old painter is apparent: from the first lithographs he made during his study at the Rietveld-academy, that show a surrealistic impact, to his recent work that is much more natural. In his development he stayed loyal to the lithograph and the pinnacle of the exhibition is a lithograph of a blind accordionist that shows a touching beauty. The same situation of this man, against the background of decaying brick-work, is also the subject of one of his most recent paintings. Here the urge for naturalism is apparent. The strong attention to technique, in earlier work leaning towards mannerism, has stayed, but now the subject gets more attention.

A logical development, because - due to experience - the technique becomes a matter of course and by this takes less awareness of the artist. Armando Cairo also exhibits a series of etchings, but with these he does not reach the level of his lithographs, drawings and paintings.

Sculptor Jef Wishaupt is his companion at this exhibition. The bronzes of this Limburg artist, whom is also gold- and silversmith, with their round shapes and polished surfaces create a solemn atmosphere. One can admire them for their control and subdued character (very rare for polished bronzes), but next to the lively world of Armando Cairo they are somewhat moved to the background, despite their elegant form. Nevertheless they deserve the attention of the audience.

Jan de Carpentier