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In the article “I Bienal de Bogotá ¿Corriente de aire fresco?” [1st Bogotá Biennial: A Breath of Fresh Air?] the historian and art critic Germán Rubiano discusses the exhibition presented at the Museo de Arte Moderno [Museum of Modern Art] in 1988. This article was published beside the one by the curator and art critic Miguel González—a double feature published in the magazine Arte en Colombia [Art in Colombia] in December 1988, in which both critics reviewed the Biennial. Rubiano begins by dismissing the remarks made by Eduardo Serrano in the exhibition’s introductory essay [see “La Bienal de Bogotá” [The Bogota Biennial], doc. # 1098306], and expressing his total disagreement with what Serrano had to say. Rubiano then goes on to explain what the exhibition meant to the visual arts, and discusses the participating artists and their work. 


The I Bienal de Bogotá [1st Bogotá Biennial] was organized by the Museo de Arte Moderno [Museum of Modern Art] in Bogotá in 1988. At the time, the cultural representative Gloria Zea was the director of the museum, and the historian and art critic Eduardo Serrano (b. 1939) was the head curator. Serrano’s negative remarks about the Salón Nacional [National Salon], made in his introduction to the Biennial, might have been the result of an argument he had had with Beatriz González (b. 1939), the director of the department of education at the Luis Ángel Arango Library, which was in charge of the Salon. It should be noted, however, that the Biennial was an important event because it created an alternative exhibition space, an arena for the criticism and discussion that was so necessary and useful in terms of assessment and reflection. 


Apparently, in his article, the historian and art critic Germán Rubiano (b. 1938) intended to describe the role played by the Salón Nacional in the recent history of the Colombian visual arts, and compare it to the 1st Bogota Biennial. Rubiano has harsh words for Serrano’s catalogue essay, which appeared in the newspaper El Espectador’s Sunday Magazine (on August 28, 1988, p. 12) and in the press releases that were circulated to promote the event. In Rubiano’s opinion, this was a major fault of the Biennial because the essay’s claims were inconsistent with the reality of the visual arts at that moment. Among other things, many of the artists who exhibited at the Biennial had also participated in the most recent edition of the Salon. For this very reason, the Biennial was not as “illuminating” as Serrano tried to make it appear.


More information on criticisms of Serrano for his essay and general coverage of the Biennial can be found in the following documents: “La Bienal de Bogotá” [The Bogotá Biennial] [see doc. # 1098322; “1ra. Bienal de Arte de Bogotá” [1st Bogotá Art Biennial] [doc. # 1098306]; and “I Bienal de Arte de Bogotá” 1st Bogotá Art Biennial] by the critic Miguel González [doc. # 1098338]. 


In his article, Rubiano also reviews the works exhibited at the Biennial, and questions the variety on display in terms of their forms of expression. As in the essay by Miguel González, Rubiano divides the works into groups in order to discuss them. In spite of his harsh remarks, the critic ends by saying: “At any rate, I hope that we will see a repeat of the Bogotá Biennials, with many changes and more serious, less sentimental ideas.” 

Erika Martínez Cuervo
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia
Courtesy of German Rubiano, Bogotá, Colombia