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In this article, commentator Darío Achury Valenzuela reflects on the state of relations between the Americas and Europe in the early thirties, on one hand, and between Colombia and the rest of the continent, on the other. The author begins with a quote from German philosopher Hegel: “everything that happens in America has its origin in Europe.” Achury Valenzuela goes on to assert that at least at this particular moment, Hegel is right since the historical mission of the Americas has been forsaken. Achury Valenzuela claims that the countries of the Americas have avoided the problem of their race by staying on the sidelines, and are entranced, as they take in what transpires in Europe. Others—among them Hegel himself and North American thinker Waldo Frank—have seen the Americas as the land of the future. Indeed, there are even fanatical proponents of that view, like Uruguayan José Enrique Rodó, specifically in terms of his vision of the United States. In Achury Valenzuela’s opinion, the Bachué group recently formed in Colombia will be able to remedy [this neglect of the Americas] in two ways. First, by furthering the creation of a specifically Colombian consciousness; and second, by bringing together North America and Latin America, therefore embarking on a search for the universal. Achury Valenzuela warns of the danger of a pernicious nationalism based on egoism and rejection of everything foreign. The Bachués, Achury Valenzuela claims, pursue a healthy nationalism that does not hinder connection with other realities, a nationalism based on knowledge of one’s own culture and on exchange with “the foreign.” Finally, Achury Valenzuela underscores that he is not calling for hardened Indianism, but rather for greater self-awareness among the Colombian people, and other people of the Americas.
This article forms part of the “Monografìa del Bachué,” a special edition of the Lecturas Dominicales, or Sunday Readings, section of El Tiempo newspaper published in Bogotá on June 15, 1930. In Colombian art history, the term “Bachué” is used in reference to art from the early thirties; it does not designate a specific group or aesthetic agenda. The origin of the name lies in a sculpture of the Chibcha goddess Bachué made by Colombian artist Rómulo Rozo (1899–1964) in 1925 in Paris. The group both expressed and gave rise to nationalist tendencies and an interest in the indigenous in Colombian art, which in turn produced a great deal of nationalist work gathered under the name Bachué. The most well-known Bachué painters are mural artist Pedro Nel Gómez (1899–1984), and painters Ignacio Gómez Jaramillo (1910–1970) and Luis Alberto Acuña Tapias (1904–1984), although they did not identify with the name.
This is not the case of a number of Bogotá-based writers and a sole visual artist—Hena Rodríguez Parra (1915–1997)—who in 1930, came together under the name Bachué to publish this monograph in the most important newspaper in Colombia. One member of the group, which included more writers than visual artists, was writer Darío Achury Valenzuela (1906–1999); he is the author of this article, the first in the monograph. In his text, Achury Valenzuela addresses nationalism, and in general terms, the Bachué position on it. This text therefore enriches study of Colombian art from these years insofar as it reveals that the Bachués were not staunch nationalists, but instead were advocates of a milder form of nationalism that favored exchange with foreign influences and regional unity, as opposed to isolation or a defense of local culture through Indianism. This text is therefore key to the study of an ongoing debate in the Americas in the early twentieth century on “the national.” In Colombia, that debate grew particularly intense in the thirties with the emergence of concerns of the sort voiced by the Bachués.