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Carmen María Jaramillo, the curator of the exhibition A través del espejo [Through the Looking Glass], begins her essay by clarifying the terms and sources she used in her approach to “painting’s self-appraisal.” She reviews the mutable, organic nature of painting from a “pictorial” point of view, and mentions the ideas of Ukrainian Peter Weibel, concerning “dialectical painting and the immediate environment,” underscoring the “critical emphasis” of some Colombian painters. She continues with “las Reglas del juego” [Rules of the Game] with which she exposes the curatorial origins of the exhibition and the artists’ selection criteria. In the chapters “Autorreflexión” [Self-reflection] and “A través del espejo” [Through the Looking Glass] the exhibition is described as a means of understanding “painting as a conscious being that is given to self-appraisal.” In the chapter “Los Pintores” she discusses the works in the exhibition and reviews the various concepts presented within the context of painting in Colombia.


This document is important because the exhibition A través del espejo: la autorreflexión de la pintura [Through the Looking Glass: The Self-reflection of Painting], presented in Bogotá, prompted a mood of self-analysis that infused new energy into the local pictorial milieu. On the eve of the twenty-first century we can understand why Colombian painting should not be judged according to the same criteria used in international circles: because of the pictorial tradition and creativity of some painters who are not involved in the gallery business, who propose other ideas: “Create sans assumptions. This is how these artists have remained relevant and perhaps avoided the crisis in Colombian painting” (…) “the medium is no longer defined by technique” (a comment published in “Traspasando el umbral: la generación intermedia” [Crossing the Threshold: The Intermediate Generation], El Tiempo. Lecturas Dominicales [Sunday Readings], (10 May 1998).

According to the Colombian art critic Carmen María Jaramillo (b. 1958), the curator of the Museo de Arte Moderno in Bogotá (1994–98), there were questions whether “the death of painting” was obsolete at that time because it referenced a Hegelian aesthetic model. Instead, she suggests a less catastrophic way: observe the process, without prejudice and within the context of contemporary art.

Her curatorial premise of A través del espejo: la autorreflexión de la pintura thus sought [to define] a wider perspective on painting, a chance to challenge its “dogmatic” elements. To that end, eight months before the event she invited a group of artists (mainly painters) to create works that used the museum space as part of the installation. These painters rethought the conventional language of painting, and came up with all manner of installations inserted into the architectural and sculptural landscape of the museum; they even created digital works for the space. The artists involved were as follows: Danilo Dueñas (b. 1956), María Elvira Escallón (b. 1954), Jaime Iregui (b. 1956), Víctor Laignelet (b. 1955), Luis Luna (b. 1958), Rafael Ortiz (b. 1960), Nadín Ospina (b. 1960), Luis Fernando Roldán (b. 1955), Carlos Salas (b. 1957), and María Fernanda Zuluaga (b. 1969).   

During the 1990s, Carmen María Jaramillo curated the following exhibitions: Sergio Trujillo Mangenat, Museo de Arte Moderno (Bogotá, 1994); El libro objeto [The Book Object], Colombian Center (New York, 1996), among others. She was also awarded a grant from the Ministry of Culture for her research project “Consolidación de la modernidad en el arte colombiano” [Consolidation of Modernity in Colombian Art] (1997–98). 


Eliana Salazar Moreno
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia
Courtesy of Carmen María Jaramillo, Bogotá, Colombia
Courtesy of Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá, Colombia