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In this article, the critic Roberto Guevara discusses the origins and emergence of new languages in contemporary art, which he groups under the heading of “conceptual art.” He mentions a number of examples, such as happenings, installations, and the use of the human body as a support. Guevara goes on to talk about the use of electronic media, explaining the difference between video-art and video when used as an auxiliary tool in communication. He ends his article with a review of Venezuelan video-installations by artists such as Sammy Cucher and José Antonio Hernández-Díez, and a reference to the important earlier works by Oscar Molinari.

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In this brief article, the Venezuelan critic and curator Roberto Guevara (1932–98) discusses a number of important aspects of the new languages of contemporary art and how they were expressed by the Venezuelan artists Sammy Cucher (b. 1958) and José Antonio Hernández-Díez (b. 1964). Guevara also refers to the influential earlier works by Oscar Molinari (b. 1941), the filmmaker and artist.

 

Guevara’s explanation of this eclectic range of new expressions and languages—that he groups under the heading of “conceptual art”—begins by addressing the question of appropriate terminology and, obviously, definitions. He also refers to the issue of how to classify these different experiments. Guevara opts for the generic term “new media,” which is a larger umbrella than “conceptual art.” Guevara’s term was subsequently adopted by other Venezuelan critics, who acknowledged that he had coined it. Guevara goes on to mention the two conditions that are considered “constants” in works of this kind: the “conceptual basis” of the exhibitions and the “questioning of the physical support as an immutable and everlasting ‘object’.” He describes these works as “new media” in a historical sense, thus stating that their roots can be found in the avant-garde movements of the early twentieth century, “when [the] Dada [movement] and [Marcel] Duchamp were expressing their radical dissent.”

 

Guevara also discusses the cultural importance of these new forms of art, since they construct metaphors based on a different syntax to the one used in language, in which everything has been considered in a new light: the movies, the theater, the visual arts, literature, and philosophy. He notes that these “new media” reconstruct contemporary versions of certain classical or ancestral myths and archetypes. Guevara ends his article with a cursory description of video-art and its various formats, and mentions that works of this nature were presented at Venezuelan exhibitions at museum, galleries, and contests in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He refers to a joint exhibition of works by the Venezuelan artists Sammy Cucher and José Antonio Hernández-Díez, though not accurately, since he reviews works by both artists that were presented at different exhibitions and salons between 1988 and 1990.  

 

Published in the Catálogo/Guía de Estudio nº 136. Exposición # 142.CCS-10. Arte venezolano actual (Caracas: Fundación Galería de Arte Nacional, 1993), pp. 10-11. According to this version, it was originally published in the newspaper El Nacional on Tuesday, February 21, 1992. The information may be incorrect, however, because this article could not be found under that date in the newspaper’s archives.   

Researcher
María Elena Huizi
Team
Fundación Mercantil, Caracas, Venezuela
Credit
Roberto Guevara, 1993
Location
Biblioteca Privada