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    Alternativa (Bogota, Colombia ; 1974)
    El Salón Nacional de Pintura : en el país de los ciegos, el tuerto es rey / Equipo Editorial, Alternativa
    Revista Alternativa (Bogotá, Colombia). -- Dic.11-18,1978
    p. 20-21 : ill.
    Journal article – Interviews

    Alternativa. "El Salón Nacional de Pintura : En el país de los ciegos el tuerto es rey." Revista Alternativa (Bogotá, Colombia), December 11-18, 1978.

“El Salón Nacional de Pintura: En el país de los ciegos, el tuerto es rey” is an interview-conversation between the editorial staff of the magazine Alternativa and four important figures in Colombian art of the seventies: Colombian-Cuban art critic Galaor Carbonell, and artists Luis Caballero, Antonio Caro, and Roberto Pizano. The interview calls into question the prizes awarded at the XXVII Salón Nacional de Artes Visuales—an event held at the Museo Nacional of Colombia in 1978—to the painting Atmósfera by Ana Mercedes Hoyos (1942) and to the installation Alacena con zapatos viejos (1978) by the group El Sindicato. El Sindicato was a collective of artists from the city of Barranquilla active from June 1976 through 1979. In the interview, Carbonell defends the allocation of the prizes though he criticizes Caballero’s work; Caballero expresses his disagreement with the decision to award prizes to those two works; Caro defends the decision to award a prize to the group from Barranquilla; and Pizano defends the decision to grant a prize to Ana Mercedes Hoyos. All of the participants in the conversation discuss the social function of the Salón Nacional de Artistas.


Alternativa was the name of a leftist magazine published in Colombia in the seventies, one particularly critical of the government. Its director was journalist Enrique Santos Calderón; its editor-in-chief was journalist and writer Antonio Caballero; writer Gabriel García Márquez (1927?2014) was the magazine’s editorial adviser.


The interview “El Salón Nacional de Pintura: En el país de los ciegos, el tuerto es rey” (whose title is taken from something that artist Luis Caballero says during the interview) evidences certain discussions surrounding the XXVII Salón Nacional de Artistas. Some segments of the cultural sphere were highly critical of the decision to grant a prize to the installation Alacena con zapatos viejos (1978), a work that has subsequently become an icon of Conceptual art from Colombia. 


That work was made by a Barranquilla-based art collective that called itself El Sindicato, a group active from June 1976 through 1979. To make the piece, the artists gathered old shoes in the streets and trash dumps of their city and its port and nailed them to a wooden cabinet. Though the assemblage was criticized on the local milieu, it was submitted to the Salón Nacional in Bogotá, where it was granted first prize. The members of the jury for that edition of the Salón Nacional were Brazilian critic and curator Aracy Amaral (b. 1930), Waldo Rasmussen (1928?2013), the director of the New York Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), and Colombian artist Santiago Cárdenas (b. 1937). Writer Eduardo Márceles Daconte described the piece as a work that “attempts to demystify the Salón’s content as a whole […]. The work re-creates the situation of social and urban decay experienced by the coastal city” [see “El XXVII Salón Nacional de Artes Visuales: reflexiones y argumentos,” doc. no. 1133541]. Artist Ana Mercedes Hoyos (b. 1942) was awarded second prize for her work Atmósfera, a white atmospheric painting.

Taller Historia Crítica del Arte (U.N.): Halim Badawi
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia
Reproduced with permission of Enrique Santos Calderón, Bogotá, Colombia.