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In this first part of a long article, published in two installments, the artist and curator Félix Ángel charts the rise of the generation of Colombian artists who came to be known as the “Once antioqueños” [Eleven Antioquians] in a critical account of that process. Ángel begins by discussing what was going on in the visual arts at a regional level prior to 1968, describing it as being “extremely cloistered.” He also acknowledges the modernizing impact of the art Biennials (sponsored by Coltejer), and explains that, until then, art from the region of Antioquia had always been considered of secondary importance in terms of the country as a whole. Ángel mentions the exhibition Arte Nuevo para Medellín [New Art for Medellín], which he calls a forerunner of the first Coltejer Biennial in 1968. At the same time, he discusses his personal situation, and refers to the absence of a museum to provide essential services (“Avant-garde exhibitions were held in furniture stores”), and to the steadily increasing participation of the “Medellín Group” in cultural events of different kinds. The opening of the first commercial “post Biennial” gallery and its discriminatory attitude, as well as the demise of the event itself, meant that many artists of that generation were forced to prove their own individual worth. In Ángel’s opinion, “the group was still not creating anything important because, when all was said and done, nobody was interested in creating something important, they just wanted to be important.” In the second section the author takes a more critical look at the art Establishment.
Two years after settling in Washington in 1977, the Colombian painter Félix Ángel (b. 1949) started work on a lengthy critical account of the group of artists of his generation from Antioquia, the state where he was born. The article captures the heat of the author’s arguments and his piercing observations, and describes the unpleasant results of the quarrels that erupted from time to time in various art circles.
The article reveals Ángel’s critical commitment (including self-criticism), which closed doors for him in certain circles in the limited cultural life in Medellin in particular and in Antioquia in general. This is an interesting insight into the long and difficult process involved in introducing regional art into the country’s contemporary art mainstream which, in his opinion, was manipulated by shrewd people with vested financial interests.
This document is a good complement to Nosotros [Us], his earlier (1976) book of interviews with 10 contemporary artists [see doc. # 1092608], and to the history of the major figures of the period that Ángel began thirty years later, in Nosotros, Vosotros, Ellos. Memoria del arte en Medellín en los años 70 [Us, You, Them, Remembering the Art in Medellín in the 1970s] (2008). [doc. # 1099471].