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“El Salón del capricho” is the title of an article written by critic Carlos Jiménez and published in the Sunday magazine of Bogotá-based newspaper El Espectador on August 23, 1998. The review criticizes the infrastructure and organization of the XXXVII Salón Nacional de Artistas, held in 1998 at Corferias (the Centro Internacional de Negocios y Exposiciones) in Bogotá. The theme of that edition of the event was “Art and Memory.” Jiménez takes stock of the event as a whole, pointing out the failures of the Colombian Ministerio de Cultura which organized it. From the outset, the art and memory theme was ambiguous and indecipherable, which meant that the proposals of the artists participating in the VIII Salones Regionales at the invitation of the Salón Nacional were not in keeping with a guideline that had not been formulated by the time the regional events issued their calls for submission or held their exhibitions. The author asserts that the change in the event’s organization meant that few artists were able to truly engage the event’s theme. Jiménez does praise works by Colombian artists María Elvira Escallón and Gloria Posada which, in his view, address the theme of memory from different perspectives. He categorizes other projects, though, as “mere whims of the media.”
This article levels a criticism of the organization of the XXXVII Salón Nacional de Artistas, one of the most important art events in Colombia. The text questions the pertinence of the curatorial theme which, according to the author, the Ministerio de Cultura established as a requirement for participation just two or three weeks before the exhibition. This sudden decision on theme failed to take into consideration the VIII Salones Regionales, preliminary events that, due to the timing, could not heed a curatorial guideline that was overly vague, leading to confusion and, hence, few satisfactory works. Jiménez does praise the Ministerio de Cultura’s choice of theme in relation to the area of education, citing the opening address in memory of Jorge Eliécer Gaitán (1898?1948) who established the Salón Nacional, a nationwide art show, in 1940 when he was the Minister of Culture. Jiménez thus attributes the event’s failure to hasty organization and to unclear indications for the artists.
The criticism voiced by Carlos Jiménez (b. 1947) forms part of the nationwide debate on the benefits and drawbacks of an art show on the scale of Salón Nacional de Artistas. Other Colombian critics and theorists to take part in the debate include Carolina Ponce de León [see doc. no. 1130195] who, first in response to the 34th edition of the event in 1992, and then in response the 35th, 36th, and 37th editions held in 1994, 1996, and 1998 respectively, advocated the formation of the alternative Proyecto Pentágono (2000) [see doc. no. 1079673, doc. no. 1093916, doc. no. 1099666, doc. no. 1102595, and doc. no. 1102611]. Proyecto Pentágono is an exhibition model based on different curatorial proposals. It was established as an alternative to the XXXVIII Salón Nacional, though at present (2010) the Salón continues to exist (a total of forty-one editions have been held). The Salón takes place in a number of different venues. Jiménez’s assertions on the pertinence of some of the works in the salon in relation to the context of the event are apt.
Carlos Jiménez studied architecture at the Universidad del Valle. He has a master’s degree in the theory and history of art and architecture from the Universidad Nacional of Colombia. As an art critic, he has contributed to the Spanish weeklies Cambio l6, Tiempo and El Europeo. At present (2010), he is a contributor to the magazines ArtNexus, Third Text, and Lápiz. He also has a weekly column in the Colombian daily El País.