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This document reproduces the introduction to Colombian painter Ignacio Gómez Jaramillo written by poet and critic Gilberto Owen on the occasion of Gómez Jaramillo’s first solo exhibition in Bogotá (1934). Owen’s text mentions the revelatory nature of 20th-century art movements and praises the discretion with which Gómez Jaramillo’s approaches the themes he addresses; while he pursues aesthetic pleasure, his work is first and foremost intellectual.
The exhibition that Gilberto Owen (1904-1952), a Mexican diplomat who lived in Colombia, announces in this text was held when Colombian painter Ignacio Gómez Jaramillo (1910–1970) returned to his country in 1934 after spending five years in Europe. An integral part of the Mexican group “Los Contemporáneos,” Owen provided a critical—perhaps, from the Mexican perspective, a downright antagonistic—vision of muralism.
Gómez Jaramillo, along with Pedro Nel Gómez (1899–1984), was one of the outstanding Colombian mural artists of the thirties. Indeed, he was the painter most akin to Nel Gómez, if not in terms of pictorial style then in terms of the vehemence of his social and artistic commitment.
Gómez Jaramillo first studied art in his native Medellin. He furthered his studies in Madrid and lived in Paris for a number of years. From 1930 until the time of his return to Colombia, he painted nudes, still lifes, landscapes, and portraits that evidenced his express intent to break with the past. The exhibition in Bogota, which Owen presented, served as an excuse to attack the norms in fashion at the time. The series of lectures organized in conjunction with the exhibition made it, as this document demonstrates, into a major cultural event.
Two 1934 oil paintings featured in the exhibition broke with prevailing tastes, which still tended towards the classical and costumbrist. This is why Owen emphasizes the discretion, sobriety, and precision of Gómez Jaramillo’s work. The text by the Mexican writer is steeped in the pedagogical spirit required by a period of radical change, like the one that took place in Colombia in the mid-thirties.