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In March 1988, journalist and editor Guillermo González Uribe, then editor-in-chief of the journal ¡Viva el arte! interviewed nine Colombian artists of different generations to ask their opinions about the following: What function should be performed by the Colombian State with respect to art and culture in general? The artists consulted were: Juan Antonio Roda, Gloria Duncan, Eduardo Ramírez Villamizar, Jorge Elías Triana, Luis Fernando Bernal, Trixi Allina, Marta Combariza, Jorge Cavelier, and Ana Mercedes Hoyos. By way of background, the prior month, the journalist had asked the same question of the candidates for mayor of Bogotá—Carlos Ossa Escobar, Clara López Obregón, Juan M. Caicedo Ferrer, and Diego Pardo Koppel. He had then published their answers in the same journal, ¡Viva el arte!, No. 9,  in February 1988. These statements showed the level of interest each candidate had in the matter of culture.


¡Viva el arte! was the monthly publication of the Cooperativa de Artes Plásticas (Cooperartes de Bogotá) that circulated between April 1987 and January 1989. In this way it contributed to the dissemination of the activities carried out by the cooperative, which was founded in 1983. Among the publication’s objectives was to encourage the participation of artists in cultural policies at the regional, national and international levels, and to make them participants in all the decisions that could affect artists whose life work was in the visual arts in one way or another. In this way, the interview performed by journalist Guillermo González Uribe (b. 1955) was significant because it gathered the opinions of some of the artists who were members of the cooperative. The answers revealed some aspects of the relationship among the contemporary arts communities, government support of the arts and the training available to artists in Colombia, specifically in the 1980s. 


González Uribe identified three positions among the responses of the nine artists consulted. In the first place were artists who were clearly skeptical and “furious” about the lack of interest in the arts and cultural matters of the Colombian State. A second opinion held that the State must be limited to stimulating the work of artists. The third position included those who believed that the Colombian government must promote the performance of specific tasks in this sphere. Some artists, such as the Valencian based in Colombia Juan Antonio Roda (1921–2003), noted that it was necessary to consider the national budget allocated to culture, since the State had shown some interest in art. Roda is positive about the cultural work fostered by the State in countries such as England. In turn, the artists Luis Fernando Bernal (b. 1955) and Marta Combariza (b. 1955) believed that the Colombian State must create educational programs, disseminate arts information, and have cultural policies that allowed artists access to social security. Similarly, the opinions of Trixi Allina (b. 1950), Jorge Cavelier (b. 1955), and Ana Mercedes Hoyos (b. 1942) stated that the government must stimulate cultural work and favor its development. They also believed that in addition to investing in culture itself, the government should disseminate information to stimulate private sector participation in financing culture. 


Journalist and editor Guillermo González Uribe was the editorial coordinator of the “Magazín Dominical” of El Espectador in the 1980s; he was then director of the Revista Gaceta of the Instituto Colombiano de Cultura (Colcultura) in the early 1990s. Starting in 1998, he was the director of the cultural journal Número. He was awarded the Premio Planeta de Periodismo (2002) for his professional career and his book Los niños de la guerra; the LASA Media Award (2001) from the Latin American Studies Association, and the arts criticism medal at the Festival Internacional de Arte de Cali (2001).

Antonio Ochoa Flórez
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia
Courtesy of Guillermo Gonzalez Uribe, Bogotá, Colombia