Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

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Synopsis

On the occasion of an exhibition at the Instituto de Bellas Artes de Medellín that included paintings by Colombian artists such as Paulina Uribe de Escobar and Carlos Correa, the journalist José Mejía y Mejía published an article in which he acknowledges, rather ironically, the revolutionary nature of Correa’s art. In the journalist’s caustic opinion, Correa’s work was appreciated by the “bourgeois” rather than by the “proletariat,” to which he adds: “Correa mined his raw material from the common people, but the masses couldn’t grasp the power or the social dynamism of those Marxist paintings that were produced with such apostolic fervor.” Mejía notes that “the audacity of his early work” needed some “technical refinement.” He also refers to public reaction to the murals by Pedro Nel Gómez: “People were of the opinion that Gómez should commit suicide to compensate viewers for those nightmares.” In conclusion, Mejía invites both Gómez and Eladio Vélez to express their ideas concerning these works “from their dogmatic orbit” as a contribution to the body of research on the subject. He says that he will be paying attention to “(…) the pontifical errors.” Neither of the artists had any public comment on the matter.

Annotations

This article presents one side of the conservative Colombian journalist José Mejía y Mejía’s thought. He would later write essays in support of the “pedronelistas”—artists who agreed with the ideas expressed by Pedro Nel Gómez (1899–1984); as distinct from the “eladistas”—the name for those who stood with Eladio Vélez (1897–1969)—who were the guardians of the artistic tradition of Antioquia.

 

In later articles Mejía y Mejía showed a rare degree of perception concerning the artistic transition of the region of Antioquia; in others he unexpectedly spoke out in support of the painter Débora Arango (1907 –2005). Here, however, he critiques the “revolutionary” and “Marxist” work of Carlos Correa (1912-1985). Mejía’s conservative sensibility saw no violation of public morality in paintings of nudes, and was encouraged by the artistic renewal in Antioquia. But when he detected political nuances related to “the masses” in Correa’s painting, he deemed the works reprehensible both because they were not appreciated by the proletariat and because of their supposed technical weaknesses. 

Researcher
Santiago Londoño Vélez
Team
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia
Credit
Reproduced with permission of El Colombiano, Medellín, Colombia