The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
In this article, critic Fernando Guillén Martínez reflects on the relationship between the artist and the environment surrounding the creative process. To that end, he starts out by explaining the universal law of symmetry that maintains the existence of parallels between the laws of nature and artistic expression. In his explanation, Guillén Martínez cites German philosopher Martin Heidegger’s notion of the “union of representations.” He goes on to analyze the relationship between the moral conditions of a time and its works of art, concluding that the artist is the one who mediates between the expression of his own “moral self” and the ethical conditions of his environment. On these grounds, Guillén Martínez condemns works of Socialist Realism dictated by forces outside the artist that bypass this process of inner synthesis. In closing, Guillén Martínez upholds the connection between art and life, opposing any external interference in the work of the artist-creator.
Fernando Guillén Martínez (1925–1975) was a Colombian critic of literature and art who wrote numerous articles on the visual arts, dance, music, novels, poetry, and culture from 1940 until the time of his death. In this text, his conception of art is informed by mysticism as he upholds the existence of immutable laws that the artist must discover and obey. Art is thus compared to religion and philosophy, since all three aspire to truth and the expression of humanity in all its facets. On the basis of these formulations, Guillén Martínez attempts to settle a debate crucial to the history of aesthetic thought in Colombia, one regarding the nature of the tie between artistic expressions and social conditions in relation to critical judgment.
Guillén Martínez condemns those who see art as a direct expression of social values, a vision that he believes fails to take into account the aesthetic dimension of creation. This is why he repudiates strains of criticism that impose sociopolitical beliefs on the artist, thus curtailing freedom of creation. This disdain is aimed specifically at Socialist Realism and critics who attempted to influence contemporary production by applying Marxist principals wholesale. Guillén Martínez argues that that attitude fails to embrace the relationship between art and reality because it conceives of the former as conditioned by politics. This article, then, makes a contribution to two central debates of the time: the influence of politics on aesthetic ideas and the relationship between art and life.