Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art Home


Document first page thumbnail

In this interview, originally published in 1956, painter Ignacio Gómez Jaramillo speaks of his childhood and formative years. Regarding his childhood, he reports that with the support of his mother, he started “doodling” at a young age. Indeed, one of his schoolteachers “encoded in me the inevitable and overpowering artistic calling.” At the age of eighteen, he traveled to Barcelona to study art independently. After his first solo show was held in Madrid in 1931, he moved to Paris. Gómez Jaramillo then states which Colombian artists he considers truly important, mentioning modern painters Carlos Correa and Pedro Nel Gómez, in addition to himself. He also recognizes talented young painters like Alejandro Obregón, Fernando Botero, and others. In closing, the interview touches on a few other concerns of the time, such as whether authentic art criticism exists in Colombia, and the “mission” of the artist. Regarding the former, Gómez Jaramillo states that “criticism in Colombia […] is a question of personal affinities or antagonisms.” Regarding the latter, he states that the artist's mission entails trying to express the times, but above all, that it redeems the country “by bringing it into the world of culture.”


This text, which is featured in a book of writings by and about Ignacio Gómez Jaramillo (1910–1970), is one of the most in-depth interviews with the artist known to exist. In it, he speaks of his life and reflects on Colombian art and the role of the artist in a manner very much in keeping with the times.


Gómez Jaramillo’s early work in Spain and France was marked by compositional rigor as he absorbed the influences of Post-Impressionism and modern art. He made wide use of ochre tones as he pursued harmony between form and color. Largely as a result of his study of Paul Cézanne in Paris, once back in Paris, Gómez Jaramillo focused on volume, which he expanded as he emphasized the structure of the painting. He tried to build a reputation as a mural artist, but open competition with Pedro Nel Gómez (1899–1984) hindered his efforts along those lines.


In the fifties, Gómez Jaramillo was associated with a generation of modern artists known as the “Trabistas”; however, his influence was limited due to bitter clashes with the critic Marta Traba. These conflicts may have contributed to his efforts to “modernize” his painting with abstract compositions and figurative images in the ascetic style of Bernard Buffet. A polemicist, Gómez Jaramillo wrote a number of texts about Colombian artists and painting.

Santiago Londoño Vélez
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia