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.
“Eclosiona un arte: acercamientos a la vida de Pedro Manrique Figueroa” [Emergence of an Art Form: Approaching the Life of Pedro Manrique Figueroa] by writer Lucas Ospina is the preface to the catalogue of Exposición de homenaje a Pedro Manrique Figueroa. Precursor del collage en Colombia [Exhibition in Honor of Pedro Manrique Figueroa: Colombia’s Forerunner of Collage] (Bogotá, Galería Santa Fe and the art magazine Valdez, 1996). Held in April 1996, the exhibition was organized by both the gallery and the editorial staff of the magazine founded by François Bucher, Bernardo Ortiz, and Lucas Ospina. A work of art in its own right, the catalogue contains ten postcards, each a reproduction of a collage by Pedro Manrique Figueroa. On the upper left-hand corner of the back of each postcard is a short text that includes when the work was made as well as commentary on the iconography each image entails. The titles of the works—El eterno retorno [The Eternal Return], La vaca sagrada [The Sacred Cow], La lora [The Old Hag], Los elegidos [The Chosen], San Benito o Mame nene que yo ta mame [Saint Benedict or Suck It Up Kid I’ve Had Enough], Al diablo con Mao [To Hell with Moa], Piojos [Lice], El martirio [Martyrdom], Aerolíneas Trinidad [Trinity Airlines], and Triple Agente [Triple Agent]—evidence the irony and sarcasm used to address politicians, religious leaders, cultural figures, and other major players in Colombian society.
The work of Pedro Manrique Figueroa (1929–1981) resurfaced on the Colombian art scene thanks to the efforts of three contemporary Colombian artists—Bernardo Ortiz (born 1972), François Bucher (born 1972), and Lucas Ospina (born 1971)—who presented it in the art magazine Valdez (1996). As the title of this text indicates, these young artists believe that Figueroa, though largely forgotten, was the precursor of collage and “pegotes” (roughly “stick-on,” which was “the affectionate nickname Manrique Figueroa used to refer to his works”) in Colombia. Whether fictional or real, the scenes, occupations, and details surrounding his life partake of imaginaries characteristic of the history of Colombia from 1943 to 1981, specifically the importance of Communism and Maoism, as well as the different relationships between left-wing activism and art, the influence of religion on daily life, and the intrigues of the art world, all of which form part of this artist’s life story.
This text is one of a series of documents and events related to Pedro Manrique Figueroa that have given rise to controversy while also inspiring works. In 2004, for instance, the Colombian Association of Art Critics requested that artist Lucas Ospina not present works by Manrique Figueroa in an exhibition, arguing that the pieces in question were the intellectual property of Colombian art critics.
Manrique Figueroa has also been the topic of newspaper and magazine articles, and of a fake documentary, Un tigre de papel [A Paper Tiger] (2007) by Colombian filmmaker Luis Ospina. That short film, which was awarded a prize at the Toulouse Film Festival in France, includes credible testimonies by figures like historian Arturo Alape (1938–2006), filmmakers Jaime Osorio (1947–2006) and Carlos Mayolo (1945–2007), artists Beatriz González (born 1938) and Umberto Giangrandi (born 1942), poet Jota Mario Arbeláez (born 1940), Australian writer Joe Broderick, and actor Vicky Hernández. The fiction and the narrative act surrounding the ambiguous figure of Pedro Manrique Figueroa incite reflections on the circumstances in which varying versions of the history of Colombia—and art—are constructed.