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.
When he turned fifty, the painter Pedro Nel Gómez was interviewed by an unnamed journalist from the magazine Semana, which published an article on his life and work. He spent his childhood in Anorí (Antioquia), and later began his training as an artist in Medellín, where he had to walk a dozen kilometers to reach classes he took with Humberto Chaves. Using watercolors that belonged to his brothers (engineers by profession), Nel Gómez started to paint; when one of them was appointed director of the municipal slaughterhouse, the artist slept there to study the cattle and the slaughter. During the day, he drew both plaster models and the human nude figure at the Instituto de Bellas Artes. When he arrived in Bogotá, he exhibited his work and got to know the bohemian section of the capital city. From there, he traveled around Europe, where he experienced poverty and developed a special attraction for Italian art. The article explains the difficulties that the artist had to face upon returning to Colombia from Europe. It also describes the launch of his fresco project, rendered on the Palacio Municipal de Medellín (today the Museo de Antioquia). Finally, the article sets forth a detailed inventory of Nel Gómez’s works created to date, including his fine artwork and documents from the urban planning work in which he was involved.
The interest of this document lies in the overview given by Pedro Nel Gómez (1899–1984) of his childhood days and years as a young man based on the records of his works rendered in different fields. Reaching his own half century mark, he looks back at the art training given him by Humberto Chaves (1891–1971). By the age of fifty, he had already painted 270 square meters of frescos, as well as countless oils, watercolors, sculpture, and urban plans for Medellín. The text also reports on Nel Gómez’s first watercolor exhibition, his bohemian period, and his trip to Europe, where living as a poor artist, he discovered outdoor art schools, printmaking, and the woman he would eventually marry.
The text is designed to praise the work created by this artist, who hopes that people “will comprehend the nobility of my architecture,” and he asks that viewers make a contemplative analysis of his painting on which he has worked so tirelessly. Referring to a quotation he often repeated in interviews, Gómez recalls a visit to his house by Le Corbusier (1887–1965). As the story goes, when the Swiss architect saw the frescos the artist had executed there, he exclaimed: “Masaccio! Masaccio!”