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This text by curator and art critic Carmen María Jaramillo was published in the catalogue to the exhibition of Colombian artist Gustavo Zalamea entitled La ciudad y la pintura: obra reciente 1992–1994 (Bogotá: Fondo Cultural Cafetero, 1994) held in Bogotá in October and November of 1997. The catalogue was printed under the auspices of the program created by the Museo del Siglo XIX. The text consists of an introduction and three sections entitled “El poder de la imagen,” Arte y utopía,” and “La pintura.” In the first two, Jaramillo presents and analyzes the socio-political implications of Proyecto Bogotá (1994), a series of postcards that show identifiable places in Bogotá altered by the presence of improbable elements; one example is an image that shows a river in the middle of the streets of Barrio Chapinero. Jaramillo asserts that insofar as the city, especially Plaza de Bolívar, is the site of socio-political and personal concerns, it is essential to a strategy that attempts to appeal to the dreamlike side of viewers. Jaramillo argues that the postcards are sarcastic, ironic, and comic as they voice a political criticism of local and national questions. In the third section of the text, Jaramillo analyzes Zalamea’s pictorial production in the works on exhibit. She places particular emphasis on the canvas El rapto (1994), a work she views as clearly indicative of a change in the artist’s formal and conceptual approach.


This text analyzes the graphic and the pictorial work of Colombian artist Gustavo Zalamea (1951?2011), each of which constitutes a distinct formal instance in Proyecto Bogotá (1994) and in the show of paintings from 1992 to 1994 held in the gallery of the Fondo Cultural Cafetero (Bogotá, 1994). In the text, Carmen María Jaramillo (b. 1958) provides a simultaneous reading of the two strains of work in the midst of the “relative contemporary chaos” where works of art cease to be unique entities to become instead phenomena that partake of reality and of imagination in equal measure. Thus, Jaramillo analyzes Zalamea’s graphic and pictorial work and their thematic concerns separately: the first is satirical and political in nature and the second steeped in an interest in pictorial material and gesture. Both strains contain powerful conceptual formulations that produce dreamlike spaces and “new architectures.”


Jaramillo views the postcards in the images from the Proyecto Bogotá series as more playful and comic in tone than most of Zalamea’s largely contentious earlier work that makes frequent reference to the Plaza de Bolívar as site of power. Insofar as this work by Zalamea addresses the city as a whole—not only the plaza—it establishes relationships with a range of phenomena rather than with a specific socio-political vision. Zalamea does this, Jaramillo asserts, without lessening the sarcasm and irony that characterize his production as a whole. For more information on Zalamea’s graphic and pictorial work, see [doc. no. 1093208].  


Artist Gustavo Zalamea studied at the Universidad Nacional of Colombia and the Universidad de Concepción in Chile. He was awarded a prize at the XXX Salón Nacional de Artistas (1986). He was later the director of the Art Program at the Universidad Nacional of Colombia (2004–06), and the director of the Instituto Taller de Creación at the Universidad Nacional of Colombia’s School of Art. 


Carmen María Jaramillo is a Colombian historian and researcher. In 2009, she was the director of the Unidad de Artes of the Banco de la República in Bogotá. She is currently (2010) a professor at the Universidad de los Andes and the coordinator of the Colombian team for Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latin Art, a digital archive and publication project coordinated by the International Center for the Arts of the Americas (ICAA) at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in conjunction with the Universidad de los Andes.

Carlos Eduardo Monroy Guerrero
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia
Courtesy of Carmen María Jaramillo, Bogotá, Colombia