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Synopsis

This article reads like an indictment of the IX Salón Anual de Artistas Colombianos held in August 1952 at the Biblioteca Nacional in Bogota. Critic Luis Vidales Jaramillo voices a resounding personal judgment of some of the works exhibited and of the event in general. He divides the article into twelve sections. In the first, he states that the exhibition is mediocre. In the second, third, and fourth, he expresses his own choices for each of the three painting awards in competition. In the fifth, he formulates a concern about the “ingenuous painting” presented at the event. In the sixth, he points out some highlights of the exhibition such as Ignacio Gómez Jaramillo’s color experiments and Luis Alberto Acuña Tapias’s compositions on canvas. In the incisive seventh, eighth, and ninth sections, the critic analyzes the shortcomings of certain major painters and lists artists and works that should have been included in the event. The last three sections discuss the sculpture prizes. In closing, Vidales Jaramillo reflects briefly on the lack of innovation in the salon and the struggle in Colombian art between academicism and alternative forms of expression.

Annotations

This article by Colombian poet and art critic Luis Vidales Jaramillo (1900–1990) demonstrates the controversial nature of the IX Salón Anual de Artistas Colombianos (1952) in terms of its political significance, on the one hand, and the quality of the works, on the other. In terms of the first, the very title of Vidales Jaramillo’s article—“The ‘Other’ Point of View: The IX Salón”— indicates that he has a dissident and alternative approach to the event, one diametrical to the government’s position. This is particularly relevant because the exhibition was held during the administration of Roberto Urdaneta Arbeláez (who assumed office in 1953), the interim president who replaced conservative President Laureano Gómez (in power from 1950-53) when he resigned, allegedly due to poor health. Gómez was also an art critic who defended the classical tradition and the principles of Christian morality, which gave rise to heated debates with Vidales Jaramillo [see “La metodología del arte: una entrevista con Luis Vidales”, doc. no. 1088833]. It is significant that critics like Vidales Jaramillo opposed the pro-establishment nature of events like this one whose aesthetic criteria were largely based on ideology.

The judgments voiced in this text about the aesthetic quality of the works, then, partake of a wider discussion on “the traditional,” that is, a debate between academicism and new forms of expression and avant-garde ideas. Vidales Jaramillo believes that, in this respect, the exhibition is a major step backwards, one that represents the triumph of “reaction, regression, restriction, restraint or whatever you want to call it.”

Lastly, this article is also a prediction insofar as it attempts to forecast which works will be awarded prizes in painting and sculpture. In Vidales Jaramillo’s view, the first prize in painting should go to Enrique Grau Araujo (1920-2004) and in sculpture to Julio Abril (1912–1979). Though he was entirely mistaken (the prizes went to Blanca Sinisterra de Carreño and Tito Lombana, respectively), it is interesting that criticism of the day issued opinions of this sort, indicating its power and commitment as it performed the function of assessing works and placing them in both aesthetic and political frameworks.

Researcher
Camilo Sarmiento Jaramillo
Team
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia
Credit
© Estate of Luis Vidales, Stockholm, Sweden
Courtesy of Casa Editorial El Tiempo, Bogotá, Colombia