"Las vanguardias son impuestas desde arriba: Leonel Góngora." Sobre arte (Bogotá, Colombia), no. 1 (August 1977): 34- 37.
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“Las vanguardias son impuestas desde arriba” is the title of an article published in Sobre arte, a transcript of a magazine interview with the Colombian artist Leonel Góngora in August 1977. The brief introduction to the interview criticizes the attention paid by local critics to the “current mediocre North American art” produced by artists such as Alice Baber, who had an exhibition in Bogotá at the time. In the interview, Góngora expresses his opinions on the avant-garde, Conceptual art, performance art, Mexican art of the 1960s, and political art. He makes a clear distinction between the “North American avant-garde” and the “Latin American avant-garde,” and agrees with the ideas outlined by Marta Traba in her article “Terrorismo de las vanguardias”. Góngora also thinks that in Conceptual art, when the object is removed, the artist becomes the product. He also criticizes the artists Carlos Granada and Umberto Giangrandi for producing a form of political art that in his opinion, has already gone out of style.
Sobre arte was a short-lived Colombian magazine edited by Blas Rico and Mariano Useche and published by the Corporación Nacional de Artes Plásticas (according to the catalogue produced by the Luis Ángel Arango Library). Apparently, only two issues of the magazine were published: in June 1976 (No. 1) and August 1977 (No. 1), [both were identified by the same number].
The magazine’s interview with Leonel Góngora (1932–99) revealed this artist’s personal opinions (which were shared by some other Colombian artists) on a variety of subjects that were considered of major importance in art circles in the 1960s, including Conceptual art, political art, and the avant-garde. Góngora’s position on these matters helps to understand the range of different ideas and approaches among artists of that period.
Although the first Colombian conceptual artists—Álvaro Barrios (b. 1945) and Antonio Caro (b. 1950)—were already around in the late 1960s, it was not until the following decade that they began to achieve a measure of exposure in Colombian institutions and in the art market. This nascent conceptual movement shared the national stage with other artists who were focused on political art, such as Clemencia Lucena (1945–83) and the Taller 4 Rojo that was founded in the early 1970s by Nirma Zárate (1936–99), Diego Arango (b. 1942), Umberto Giangrandi (b. 1942), Fabio Rodríguez Amaya, and Jorge Mora.