Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

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Synopsis

In this article, Alejandro Obregón criticizes the exhibition of works by fellow painter Enrique Grau at the Sociedad Colombiana de Arquitectos in Bogotá in 1948. Obregón compares the work in this show with Grau’s earlier production, asserting that these paintings are less “vibrant,” though “deeply emotional.” Obregón goes on to argue that, as part of a community, an artist must show what he really is. While he praises Grau’s ability to express universal values, he opposes the “feeble harmonies” of some of these paintings. In Obregón’s view, Grau should focus more on color and less on drawing. In closing, Obregón mentions some of Grau’s preferred motifs and praises paintings like Nancy and El niño de la cereza [The Cherry Boy].

Annotations

This article voices the opinion of Alejandro Obregón Rosés (1920-1992)—a major figure in Colombian Modernism—on an exhibition of his equally important colleague, Enrique Grau Araújo (1920-2004). As such, it provides privileged testimony on the intense activity of the artists and critics instrumental to the consolidation of Modern art in Colombia in the late forties. When this article was written, both Obregón and Grua were at the beginning of their careers after having traveled abroad in the early forties; Obregón had been in Spain (Catalonia) and Grua in the United States (New York). 

 

The criticism voiced in this article is that of an artist; it centers on technical and pictorial problems from the perspective of someone who practices the craft and knows the medium. As such, it is highly valuable as documentary material. On the basis of this article, intersections between the works of these two artists—each of whom had his first solo exhibition in 1946—can be formulated. By 1948, when this article was published, Grua and Obregón had confirmed their commitment to Modern art by organizing and participating in the Salón de los XXVI in Bogotá, one of the first decidedly Modern art competitions in the history of Colombian art.  

 

Enrique Grau was born in Cartagena de Indias. He entered into the art world when his work Mulata cartagenera [Mulatta from Cartagena] was awarded a mention at the Primer Salón Nacional in 1940. Pursuant to the award, the Colombian government granted him a fellowship to study at the Art Students League of New York. In both New York and Florence, where he would spend a long period in the fifties, Grau furthered his studies. The work he produced in the fifties and sixties was representative of Modern art in Colombia. While living in New York in the eighties, he began to produce sculpture, the last artistic language he would explore in his long career.

Researcher
Camilo Sarmiento Jaramillo
Team
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia
Credit
Courtesy of Casa Editorial El Tiempo, Bogotá, Colombia.
Courtesy of Diego Obregón.