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This is the text of the lecture given in October 1934 by the writer Jorge Zalamea at the Teatro Colón in Bogotá on the occasion of the exhibition of works by the painter Ignacio Gómez Jaramillo. The essay begins with a general discussion on the subjects mentioned in the title. Zalamea then provides a detailed review of the works by the Colombian painters Miguel Díaz Vargas and Luis B. Ramos, and compares them to the paintings by Gómez Jaramillo. Zalamea critiques what he sees in Díaz Vargas as loyalty to the appearance of forms; that “stubborn determination to introduce something live into the still life of a concept,” which in the writer’s opinion, inevitably condemns the artist to academicism. He also suggests that Ramos lacks the craftsmanship required for painting and describes his work as ersatz Romantic painting. On the other hand, Zalamea has high praise for Gómez Jaramillo’s creativity and for the quality of his work. He singles out three of the artist’s paintings in which he applauds the intelligence, imagination, and sensitivity through which to “express original concepts over a form.”


According to the Colombian writer, poet, dramatist, and essayist Jorge Zalamea (1905–1969), the most accomplished painter of his generation was Ignacio Gómez Jaramillo (1910–1970), whose work Zalamea discusses and praises unreservedly in this article. This praise for Gómez Jaramillo’s work is unusual if we remember that as a critic, Zalamea was incisive and little given to indulgence. This was also true in the case of young painters and sculptors who worked within the modernist parameters that he sought to promote.


Zalamea was one of the most brilliant art critics of the period. He reviewed the work of Colombian artists of his generation, such as Gómez Jaramillo, Sergio Trujillo Magnenat (1911–1999), Pedro Nel Gómez (1899–1984), Gonzalo Ariza (1912–1995), Ramón Barba (1894–1964), Carlos Reyes, Josefina Albarracín (1910?1997), José Domingo Rodríguez (1895–1968), and Luis Alberto Acuña (1904–1984) in articles he compiled in the book Nueve Artistas Colombianos [Nine Colombian Artists] (1941). The title of this document, “Clasicismo, romanticismo y academicismo” [Classicism, Romanticism, and Academicism] is taken from that book; it is a bibliographic reference for a key aspect of the research required for the period in question.  


In the essay published in Pan magazine, Zalamea is shown in a pen and ink portrait drawn by Gómez Jaramillo, who is also shown in a photograph taken in his studio. During the Alfonso López Pumarejo (1886–1959) administration, Zalamea was appointed minister of education and, subsequently, secretary general to the president. In the 1940s, Zalamea was a diplomat, representing Colombia in Mexico City. In 1965, he won the essay prize awarded by Casa de las Américas in Havana with La poesía ignorada y olvidada [Ignored and Forgotten Poetry] (1966).

Álvaro Medina
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia
Reproduced with permission of Alberto Zalamea Costa, Bogota, Colombia