The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
Marta Traba’s review of Insectos [Insects]—the exhibition of works by the painter Luciano Jaramillo at the Biblioteca Nacional de Colombia [Colombian National Library]—appeared in the Art Criticism section of La Nueva Prensa magazine. Discussing Jaramillo’s work, Traba notes parallels with the work of the well-known painter Alejandro Obregón since, according to Traba, the former’s work is seen as a model by young artists. Whereas Obregón’s work tends to be epic and lyrical, Jaramillo’s paintings are violent; they are based on powerful, anti-poetic subjects, as in the works at this exhibition. Traba describes Jaramillo as an “angry painter” whose “authentic aggressiveness” allows him to “find an aesthetic form of expression for his temperament.” Here, Traba is not just referring to the subject of insects, but rather to the expressive, desperate way in which the artist approaches the visual elements in his painting.
Following the exhibition Insectos [Insects] in June 1962, the article “Jaramillo: Pintura visible y audible” [Jaramillo: Visible and Audible Painting] by Marta Traba (1923–1983), the Argentine art critic who spent many years in Colombia, established the young artist Luciano Jaramillo as a major talent after his work was recognized by one of the most influential intellectuals of the period. This article helps to understand the arrival of a new existential, pessimistic, and violent form of Figuration—heir to the work of Alejandro Obregón (1920-1992).
Jaramillo was born in the city of Manizales (Caldas); in 1957 and 1958 he studied painting and advertising at L’École Paul Colin in Paris. On his return to Colombia, his first exhibitions drew the attention of resident art critics such as Traba, Walter Engel (1908–2005), and Casimiro Eiger (1911–1987), originally from Vienna and Poland, respectively. All three encouraged his Expressionist painting, though Traba criticized the strong influence of the French painter Bernard Buffet (1928-1999) in Jaramillo’s early works, in 1959. In this article, Traba mentions Jaramillo’s “authentic aggressiveness, even when he becomes lost in ‘Buffetian’ labyrinths, in monsters, or in deformed ineptitude.”
The year prior to the Insectos exhibition was a defining one for Jaramillo. In 1961, he was appointed professor of painting at the Universidad de los Andes; he had several shows during that period; and he exhibited at the XIII Salón de Artistas Colombianos [13th Colombian Artists Salon] where he was awarded second prize for painting. Traba and Engel both reviewed his exhibitions favorably in a series of articles, including “El gran talento de Luciano Jaramillo” [Luciano Jaramillo’s Great Talent], La Nueva Prensa (April 19-25, 1961).
The Colombian journalist Alberto Zalamea Costa (b. 1926)—who was Marta Traba’s husband at the time—launched La Nueva Prensa magazine in April 1961. With the help of a select group of intellectuals and members of the political class, Zalamea positioned the weekly magazine in open opposition to the Frente Nacional [National Front], the obligatory bipartisan alternative to the Colombian presidency for 16 years. In 1963, La Nueva Prensa became a daily newspaper that was published until 1967. Traba wrote a weekly column about modern art and “the new Figuration” that Jaramillo represented. She also organized debates on art at the newspaper’s offices, which became a cultural center. This article subsequently appeared in the book Mirar en Bogotá [Seeing in Bogotá] (1976) that was published by the Instituto Colombiano de Cultura –Colcultura [Colombian Cultural Institute – Colcultura], and was included in the collection of articles titled Marta Traba (1984) assembled by the Museo de Arte Moderno in Bogotá.