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    Aborígenes colombianos en la obra de Leopoldo Richter
    Cromos (Bogotá, Colombia). --- Dic. 3- 9, 1956
    Journal article – notes
    "Aborígenes colombianos en la obra de Leopoldo Kichter." Cromos (Bogotá, Colombia), December 3- 9, 1956.
    artists; entomologists

This article, by an anonymous author, introduces the entomologist and artist Leopoldo Richter—who settled in Colombia in 1935—and describes the scientific work and the painting he did in the Colombian jungles. The article refers to the connection that exists between Richter’s work as an entomologist and as an artist, suggesting that each function requires a particular sensitivity and awareness of his surroundings. In Richter’s case, his artistic work—produced over the course of several trips to the Amazon, the Orinoco, and the Pacific coast—led him to a “deeper understanding of our tropical region and helped him to establish a fraternal relationship with the indigenous people.” The article describes an exhibition of twenty-nine works that Richter presented at the German-Colombian Cultural Institute in Bogotá, a group of figures that “are neither realistic nor expressionistic, but are done in a modern, very characteristic style.” The figures share common features such as half-naked native bodies with “copper-colored” or “burned” skin, distinctive clothing, “subtle tattoos,” and “exotic face paint,” as well as the gestures they exchange among themselves. Rather than being placed in a natural setting, they are set against a white background that makes them stand out, accentuating the physical and social aspects of the group of human figures.       


This unsigned article was published on the occasion of the first solo exhibition of work by the entomologist and artist Leopoldo Richter (1896–1984) at the German-Colombian Cultural Institute in Bogotá. Richter settled in Colombia in 1935; he was a specialist in membranous insects at the Institute of Natural Science. He had developed an interest in art while still in Germany as a result of his work as an illustrator and through his contact with the painter Hans Thoma (1839–1924) and the classes he took with the Swiss architect Le Corbusier (1887–1965). 


The paintings that Richter exhibited for the first time in Bogotá depicted people from indigenous tribes and scenes of their family and social life. The figures were constructed through an articulation of geometrical planes and a synthesis of forms. Such pictorial resources were common in the figurative works of young Colombian artists in the 1950s, who were inspired by a discourse that valued form over narrative, and which [helped to] consolidate modern art in Colombia. 


It is important to note that the author of this article stresses the appropriate racial depiction of the indigenous people in Richter’s works, as well as the acknowledgment of their humanity in the gestures and the expression of their emotions. Richter’s interpretation thus differs considerably from what might have been done by a contemporary painter who was more interested in the “formal construction” of the works. On the other hand, there is the issue of how Richter’s arguments are based on an “exoticized” view of indigenous communities.

Nicolás Gómez Echeverri
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia
Courtesy of Inversiones Cromos S.A - Revista Cromos, Bogotá, Colombia