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In this article, published in November 1963, the Colombian journalist Gloria Valencia Diago interviews the Spanish artist Juan Antonio Roda, in connection with the exhibition of his oil painting series, Tumbas, at the Museo de Arte Moderno in Bogotá. The article begins with a brief overview of the exhibition and the artist’s work since he moved to Colombia in 1955. The painter, who was the director of the Escuela de Bellas Artes at the Universidad de Los Andes at the time, uses the article to open up about his opinions and thoughts. The text investigates his artistic development as he moved from figurative to abstract art, the state of Colombian art at the time, the role of abstract painting, and MAM’S mission as an educational agent in the capital art scene.


This document is important because by 1963, Colombian art was in search of expressive outlets that would open the way for new art languages, new works, and new individual visions. When the oil painting series Tumbas was shown, its creator, Juan Antonio Roda (1921–2003), was interviewed. He presented himself as an artist who had gone through a figurative period, and although he considered figurative art a completely valid resource, he was now thinking about abstract art. Rather than regarding it as a method, he saw it as a way to feel the painting. In his opinion, it was not a form of expression that distanced him from reality; on the contrary, it allowed him to approach it on a path that was not in conflict with figurative art. It was rather an alternative: a way of thinking about the components of visual art.


The purpose of the article was to review Roda’s series, presented as the inaugural exhibition at the original MAM in Bogotá, which had opened ten days earlier (October 31, 1963). At the time, the writer/interviewer, Gloria Valencia Diago (b. 1927), was a member of MAM’s board of directors. She wrote frequent articles and interviews on art in the capital newspaper El Tiempo


Shortly before the inauguration of the MAM, Roda had exhibited an abstract painting at the XIV Salón Nacional de Artistas. This represented a set of art values that rested on a basic perspective, with theoretical leanings, supported by the art critic and director of MAM, Marta Traba (1923–83).


For another related document written by Marta Traba, see “Tumbas: Juan Antonio Roda” [doc. no. 1092548].

Alexandra Mesa Mendieta
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia
Courtesy of Casa Editorial El Tiempo, Bogotá, Colombia.