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This article about the recent exhibition of works by José Horacio Martínez appeared in the Bogotá newspaper El Tiempo. The writer of the article describes some of the paintings in this artist’s series about food that were on display at the Galería El Museo in Bogotá in October 1996, focusing in particular on one canvas that portrays a tongue impeccably served at the table. The article includes a couple of quotes from Martínez, one of which links the subject of food to the violence that plagues Colombia. The anonymous writer of the article describes the figures that can be seen in the large painting and discusses the artist’s method of spreading his canvas out on the floor. The writer concludes that Martínez’s paintings cannot be fully understood with just a cursory glance: “you have to stop, step closer, and see the figures the artist has created with an awl and hidden among his colors.”    


This unsigned newspaper article is a review of the latest paintings by the Colombian artist José Horacio Martínez (b. 1961) that were exhibited at the Galería El Museo in Bogotá in October 1996. The article suggests that the painting about food cannot be easily understood; the viewer must decipher the iconography and the various elements woven into the work. In Martínez’s view, food has historical and political associations with art and with life. Among the various articles from the same period, this one attempts to describe the work and explore the artist’s subject and his method. 


Martínez is interested in day-to-day things, such as watching how people wander through the city of Cali. In his large work Paseantes (2001), he painted bystanders who watched crowds of people strolling by on a background of garish colors. In an earlier series, El público (1999), he painted the figure of a man applauding in a desolate space. In October 2009 Martínez had his last solo show, Desde este inmenso autobús, at the Galería El Museo in Bogotá, where he exhibited a collection of black and white paintings inspired by his everyday fantasy life. These works are reminiscent of the sketchbook published by La Silueta Ediciones in August 2009, entitled Libretas: 1988–1992.   


José Horacio Martínez is considered one of the most outstanding painters in the city of Cali, where he returned in 1986 after a long stay in the capital city, Bogotá. Two years prior to the exhibition mentioned here he was awarded the prize at the XXXV Salón Nacional de Artistas (1994) when he was thirty-three years of age. While he was in Bogotá he studied advertising at the Universidad Central (1979-83). In recent years he has divided his time between painting and video production. Since December 2003 he has directed Espacio Temporal, a project devoted to finding temporary exhibition opportunities for contemporary art in ruined spaces or troubled places like the Museo de Arte Moderno La Tertulia. Martínez was appointed cocurator of the 41 Salón Nacional de Artistas that was organized by the Ministry of Culture in Cali in 2008.

Adriana María Ríos Díaz
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia
Courtesy of Casa Editorial El Tiempo, Bogotá, Colombia.