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.
Colombian writer and journalist Alfonso Fuenmayor dedicates a chapter of his book Crónicas sobre el Grupo de Barranquilla to his friend, the artist Orlando Rivera. A biographical piece, this text is rich in anecdotes about a man who, along with Fuenmayor, was a regular at Librería Mundo and Café Colombia, the gathering points of what was called the Grupo de Barranquilla. The author explains that it was through a prize that Rivera—more commonly known as “Figurita”—was awarded at the IV Salón Anual de Pintores Costeños that he came into contact with the members of the group. Fuenmayor—who says he was the organizer of the salon though he does not mention when it was held—recalls that Alejandro Obregón and Enrique Grau were declared out of the running for the prizes. Through episodes from his friend’s life, Fuenmayor depicts the many facets of “Figurita,” who was a painter, draftsman, caricaturist, excellent dancer, circus clown, painter of murals at brothels, and designer of carnival floats including the one involved in the tragic accident that led to his death. The origin of the chapter’s title lies in one of the anecdotes it recounts, when the artist married a nun. In some of the anecdotes about Rivera, Fuenmayor discovers how he embellished reality to give a story a touch of humor. The chapter also features a few texts by Obregón and others by Fuenmayor written on the occasion of the posthumous exhibition in honor of “Figurita,” “the painter of Barranquilla, because he was a delicate machine of feeling and enduring all things from that city.”
The chapter entitled “Orlando se casa con una monja” in the book Crónicas sobre el Grupo de Barranquilla (1978)—the only book published by Colombian writer and journalist Alfonso Fuenmayor (1917-1994)—is a tribute to artist Orlando Rivera (1915-1960) who, according to Colombian art historian Álvaro Medina (b. 1942) “lived in a chronic state of poverty.” The only two artists to whom Fuenmayor dedicates entire chapters in his book are Alejandro Obregón (1920-1992) and Rivera, more commonly known as “Figurita,” a nickname that originated with his illustrated magazine entitled Figuras. Medina asserts that Rivera’s expressiveness rivals that of painters like Guillermo Wiedemann (1905-1969), a German artist who lived in Colombia, and Darío Jiménez (1919-1980). Orlando “Figurita” Rivera was an artist of the people and a figure closely tied to the intellectuals of the Grupo de Barranquilla.
Fuenmayor explains that what is known as the Grupo de Barranquilla came into being in the city of Bogotá when, from his column in the Bogotá-based newspaper El Espectador, writer Próspero Morales Pradilla (1920-1990) used the term to refer to a group of well known writers and artists who lived in the coastal city of Barranquilla. It was formed, Fuenmayor states, in “the year nineteen forty something,” and its founders and leaders were writer José Félix Fuenmayor (father of the author of this text, 1885-1966) and Catalan Ramón Vinyes (1882-1952). Both were regulars at Librería Mundo, a place where Álvaro Cepeda Samudio (1926–1972), Germán Vargas (1919-1991), and Gabriel García Márquez (b. 1927)—all of whom were members of the group—would meet on a daily basis. Later, the author and artists Alejandro Obregón and “Figurita” would get together at Café Colombia, Café Roma, and the bar La Cueva, the last of which became famous throughout the country as a place where, over a few glasses of rum, artists, writers, and journalists gathered from 1945 to 1965.
Alfonso Fuenmayor—who was the assistant director and a leading writer for the newspaper El Heraldo for twenty-six years and later (until 1983) the director of Diario del Caribe—was known as the most cultivated member of the Grupo de Barranquilla. His outstanding column “Tipos y cosas de la ciudad” was published in the Bogotá-based magazine Estampa (1938-1970). In 1949, along with García Márquez, Cepeda Samudio, Vargas, and Vinyes, he founded the La Crónica, a Barranquilla-based weekly with articles by the group and illustrations by “Figurita.”