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In this text, Carmen María Jaramillo reviews Autorreflexiones de la pintura, an exhibition of work by Colombian painter Carlos Salas’s held at Galería El Museo in Bogotá in 1994. Jaramillo addresses the formal aspects of Salas’s art as well as its underlying concerns. In Jaramillo’s critical meditation, she asserts that Salas engages in experimentation with pictorial problems; his work develops through constant questioning. The article addresses other topics pertinent to Salas’s work, among them the relationship between the viewer and painting, the implications of the work’s format, the way the artist moves in and out of the fictional, and the temporal variation produced by placing small parts of earlier paintings in more recent works.


This article addresses a number of aspects of work by Colombian artist Carlos Salas (b. 1957). It discusses, for instance, his use of small formats, which historian Carmen María Jaramillo (b. 1958) sees as a way of drawing the audience into “a constant process of moving in and pulling away in order to observe the painting within the painting.” Salas is also concerned with the contingencies of the painting medium and with the painstaking repetition of compositions. Salas joins fragments of other paintings together with magnets, which means that the works can be modified. He thus draws attention to the possibility of change and to the range of choices that underlie the construction of a work of art. Though the work may seem like an invitation to interact, it does not formulate a game but rather delicately demonstrates the evolution of Salas’s pictorial surfaces over time and their particular narrative in his painting. The inclusion of earlier works sets these paintings aquiver before the audience, enabling appreciation beyond an inopportune intellectuality that formulates “riddles to ensnare and allure.”


Salas’s system for making and conceiving his art is very much his own. The constant exercise of his process yielded rigorous and structured works during a decade marked by excess in terms of commercial painting and a boom in Conceptual art in Colombia. Salas participated in a great many projects outside the mainstream, inciting reflection on art and criticism of its institutions.


A trained philosopher, Jaramillo has a master’s degree in the history of art and architecture from the Universidad Nacional of Colombia. She was awarded a grant from Colcultura to study Colombian art of the fifties and sixties. As curator of the Museo de Arte Moderno of Bogotá, she organized the exhibition A través del espejo held in 1998. She later did the research, curated, and wrote the texts for the show Alejandro Obregón, el mago del Caribe organized by the Museo Nacional of Colombia in 2001. Jaramillo has taught at a number of universities in Bogotá, among them the Universidad de los Andes, where she worked on the graduate and post-graduate levels directing research on Colombian art history. Projects produced in this context include the publication and exhibition En un lugar de la plástica held at the Fundación Gilberto Alzate Avendaño in 2007. In 2009, she was the director of art and other collections at the Banco de la República. Jaramillo is the coordinator for Colombia of the project Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art of the International Center for the Arts of the Americas (ICAA) under the auspices of The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Camilo Leyva
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia
Courtesy of Carmen María Jaramillo, Bogotá, Colombia
Reproduced with permission of Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá, Colombia