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Álvaro Medina analyzes the work of Colombian artist Luis Paz, who “works with ideas more than with images.” Medina defines Paz’s work as Conceptual art, a category that allows him to explain what is supposedly understood by this trend in Colombia. In short, the writer finds that there are “so many different types [of work]” that he tries to find examples of some well-known European and American artists. He also compares Paz’s technique with that of the 1970s Japanese artist Shusaku Arakawa. To Medina, the artist’s approach suggests “a kind of late Pop art,” given that its starting point is an advertising image, though he does not sublimate it, as did the Pop artists. Such is the case for the work Ahogada en la chispa (based on a Coca Cola slogan and logo). The writer is also interested in other works by Paz (no dates noted): Elementos de fuerza, El sueño alimenta and Pan fatigado.


The text by the art critic and historian Álvaro Medina (b. 1942) is noteworthy for the way it interprets the work of Luis Paz (1937–2011). The writer defines Paz’s work as an approach to Conceptual art that could be considered “late Pop,” particularly based on its appropriation of advertising images. This phase marks Paz’s early incursions into silkscreen. Medina allows us to understand the reception and use of international trends in art criticism to analyze and characterize this art, which is so unconventional in the Colombian art world. 


Paz participated in the exhibition Arte y Política (1974) at the Museo de Arte Moderno of Bogotá—curated by Eduardo Serrano Rueda (b. 1939)—with a work whose title was not specified by Medina. However, the writer describes this piece, based on the museum logo, transformed by the artist in a way that is critical of the institution. Bringing this exhibition to our attention, the writer praises it for “overcoming ostracism and secrecy to create works that take the path of realism, showing commitment to the social process.”


In the departments of Santander and Norte de Santander (located in Northeastern Colombia), there have been outstanding artists who have decided to surpass their provincial limits to undertake more experimental paths, whose impact was evident on the national art scene. Such was the case for Eduardo Ramírez Villamizar (1923–2004), Beatriz Daza (1927–1968), Sonia Gutiérrez (b. 1947), Beatriz González (b. 1938), Saturnino Ramírez (1946–2002), and Edgar Silva (1944–2000), among others. 


In the 1970s, Luis Paz worked intensely on silkscreen and engraving in metal. He founded several engraving workshops, and became a professor in this field at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia and the Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano in Bogotá. He studied at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia and continued his studies at the Academia de San Fernando in Madrid. Throughout his life as an artist, his work was characterized as addressing themes of social criticism or denunciation. Medina’s research has been fundamental in providing the Colombian art world with unprecedented reviews about modern art in Colombia. Through 2008, he was a professor at the Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia. Among his numerous publications, some outstanding works are: Procesos del arte en Colombia (1978), El arte colombiano de los años veinte y treinta (1994), and Poéticas visuales del caribe colombiano (2008).

Adriana María Ríos Díaz
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia
Courtesy of Diario El Pueblo, Cali, Colombia