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.
In this interview, sculptor Hugo Zapata reflects on his formative years, as well as his work as an educator and the way the academic bureaucracy limited his development as an artist. He speaks of the period he worked in silkscreen printing and of his fruitful efforts to open—and then direct—a new art school in Medellín. One day he began experimenting with volume, which led him to become a regular visitor to the geology laboratory of the Universidad Nacional in the city of Medellín. Since then, he has developed a personal language that revolves around age-old practices, references to archeology, and explorations of time, memory, and the secret alphabets of rocks. Through his work with stone sculpture, Zapata discovered that that material was not mute but rather rich in “signs that must be deciphered.”
This document sheds light on how the ideas and artistic interests of Colombian sculptor Hugo Zapata (b. 1945) emerged and evolved.
Zapata took classes at the Instituto de Artes Plásticas of the Universidad de Antioquia before enrolling in the Architecture School of the Universidad Nacional’s Medellín campus. Indeed, many of the restless young artists at the forefront of the innovation of the visual arts in Antioquia in the seventies were trained as architects, partly due to their dissatisfaction with traditional art education in Colombia.
Zapata first became interested in serial art as a result of the social and political concerns of the time. He was active in the founding of the Universidad Nacional’s art program, the response of emerging artists from Antioquia to what they considered a stifling traditional academy. Zapata has produced a great deal of work for private and public spaces in Colombia, all of which demonstrate his idea that “art is necessary insofar as it causes the human being to form part of his surroundings and accompanies him spiritually beyond any promise. Art is not actually that useless after all.”