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The critic Juan Calzadilla introduces the exhibition of prints by Luis Chacón at the Museo de Bellas Artes in Caracas, discussing the lack of a printmaking tradition and wondering what the artist might do to remedy the void in training opportunities for printmakers in Venezuela. Calzadilla explains that Venezuelan collectors are dismissive of prints, but that artists such as Chacón and Luisa Palacios have helped to promote an appreciation of printmaking as an art form. The critic points out that Chacón’s illustrations are of secondary consideration, since his work shows that he is a professional printmaker. Calzadilla divides the thirty works in the exhibition into two groups: pictorial prints and prints with relief and texture


This essay by the critic and draftsman Juan Calzadilla (b. 1931) is the introductory text in the catalogue for the exhibition Luis Chacón: 30 grabados (Caracas: Museo de Bellas Artes, 1962). At the time, Calzadilla was the director of Visual, the magazine published by the MBA, which organized the exhibition. Luis Chacón (1927?2009) had already had a long career in graphic art, but at that time, prints and printmaking had no tradition at an academic, exhibition, or collector level, as Calzadilla points out. Therefore the value of this document as a reference is to one of the first solo print exhibitions, which was presented during the same year in which the Premio Nacional de Dibujo y Grabado that was launched at the Salón Oficial Anual de Arte Venezolano was awarded; and seven years before the first Premio Nacional de Grabado at the same Salón. In his essay, Calzadilla deplores the barriers that deny printmaking due recognition, contrasting that institutional indifference with the individual crusades of artists, such as Chacón and Palacios. The essay portrays the exhibition as being at a crossroads in the history of Venezuelan printmaking and in Chacón’s career. In the former, the exhibition represents a recognition of the validity of a particular artistic language with no tradition in this country, a genre nurtured entirely by individual efforts. In the latter case, the exhibition at the Museo de Bellas Artes in 1962 represents Chacón’s transition through abstraction to the start of the experimental phase that prompted him to transcend the two-dimensional boundaries of paper and the serial potential of the print, to produce object-prints and, later on, sculptures.

Milagros González
Fundación Mercantil, Caracas, Venezuela
Reproduced with permission of Juan Calzadilla, Caracas, Venezuela
Biblioteca Museo de Bellas Artes de Caracas, Plaza de Los Museos, Parque los Caobos, Caracas 1010, República Bolivariana de Venezuela