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Darío Ruiz Gómez introduces the exhibition Darío Jiménez: Obras 1942-1979 [Darío Jiménez: Works 1942-1979] at the Galería Belarca in Bogotá. In this essay Ruiz Gómez states that Colombian art lives off “institutionalized aesthetic truths” that imprison the imagination and stifle freedom. Rather than being inspired by new experiences, this art merely parodies what was once considered “new.” Ruiz Gómez believes that this phenomenon is caused by separating art from life, by distancing art from personal processes; he finds it deplorable that artists sacrifice “the value of embracing a personal truth” by following “false statements.” This preamble is his introduction to the exhibition of works by the Colombian painter Darío Jiménez, who portrays a feverish inner world devoid of doctrinaire aesthetic pretensions. Ruiz Gómez describes Jiménez as a painter who “eschews the mainstream” and is uninterested in standards and conventions. The only reason he has gained some visibility is thanks to the efforts of his friends who organized an exhibition of his works. Like all romantics, Jiménez teaches through the lyrical quality of his paintings.
In this essay, the Colombian writer and art critic Darío Ruiz Gómez (b. 1936) discusses the only retrospective exhibition ever presented of works by Darío Jiménez (1919-80), which was also the last showing of the painter’s works during his lifetime. Ten months later Jiménez died in total obscurity in the city of Ibagué (Tolima). This exhibition at the Galería Belarca was organized in 1979 by Alberto Casas in an attempt to redress the many years his friend Jiménez had spent in the artistic wilderness.
The posthumous exhibitions Darío Jiménez: Exposición antológica 1938-1980 [Darío Jiménez: Retrospective Exhibition 1938-1980] (1987) at the Luis Ángel Arango Library in Bogotá, and Darío Jiménez: Un testimonio poético [Darío Jiménez: A Poetic Testimony] (1995) at the Museo de Arte Moderno in Bogotá prompted public awareness and critical recognition of the work that Jiménez produced on the fringes of the art milieu that laid the foundations of contemporary art in Colombia. Jiménez had a total of five exhibitions: in 1942, at the Conservatorio de Tolima; in 1943, in the foyer of the Teatro Colón in Bogotá; in 1946, in Mexico City; in 1972, at the Galería 70 in Bogotá; and the final one referred to here.
According to Ruiz Gómez, Darío Jiménez was driven by a passion that was essentially “a fine madness;” his life and work were at odds with the hegemonic values that were held in high esteem in Colombian art circles. Due to the indifference with which his work was received by critics who venerated established artistic languages, and the fact that he was never included in important events at national salons, he worked in total obscurity. Though his bohemian lifestyle was deemed offensive in local conservative circles, his work resonated within the cultural context of the department of Tolima in the Andean area of central-western Colombia where he lived.
In the introduction to the exhibition Darío Jiménez: Exposición antológica 1938-1980 [Darío Jiménez: Retrospective Exhibition 1938-1980], the art critic and curator Carolina Ponce de León (b. 1957) states that Jiménez’s exhibitions did not attract a great deal of attention, probably due to a lack of coverage by less responsible critics at the time. She thus suggests, perhaps referring to the show at the Galería Belarca, that “it is hard for a gallery to define the historical merits of a work of art without the support of critics, art historians, and official cultural competitions.” (See "Darío Jiménez: Exposición antológica 1938-1980" [Darío Jiménez: Retrospective Exhibition 1938-1980], doc. # 1098541).