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This unsigned article reports on the first exhibition at the Taller de Arte Realista (TAR), presenting drawings and paintings presented in its own studios. Throughout the text, the writer outlines the motivations and positions that govern its operations. During the four and a half years in which it has been operating, the workshop has won over both the mass population of the city as well as the peasants in towns all around the country. The article praises the social commitment of this group, focused on the towns and townspeople, emphasizing the moral, ethical, and instructional elements of the work of its members.
This text is attributed to Gabriel Bracho, leader and founder of the group; it praises a sense of aesthetics that seeks the emancipation and education of the people through aesthetic and artistic content that is essentially political. The predecessor of the Taller de Arte Realista (TAR) was a group called the Grupo de Paracotos that arose in the small village of Paracotos, not far from Caracas, with members who painted the landscape and distributed political propaganda among the local population. TAR itself was founded in 1958 and maintained operations for just over a decade until 1969. It was a more belligerent version of the earlier group, with art based on social realism as expressed in Venezuela. Its members included: Jorge Arteaga, Claudio Cedeño, Sócrates Escalona, José Domingo Márquez, José Antonio Dávila, Nicolás Piquer, Antonio Rodríguez Llamosa, Julio César Rovaina, and Luis Domínguez Salazar. It was also supported by two members of the Escuela de Caracas: Rafael Ramón Gonzáles and Chilean Armando Lira, both landscape painters. One fundamental problem with the Taller de Arte Realista was that it was unaware that “the Criollista phase” of Venezuelan art had already come full circle. Meanwhile, “Latin Americanist” and “nationalist” art had matured into other directions during the 1950s. Some of these new directions were archeologically-inspired painting by members of the Taller Libre de Arte (TLA ) in Caracas, Oswaldo Vigas’s style of “witches” and jungles by Jacobo Borges, etc. On the other hand, the Taller de Arte Realista accused the Venezuelan elites of making art incomprehensible to the people and keeping it for themselves, making it impenetrable. All this was going on at a time (1959) of frank cultural, democratic openness, with very active museums; that was why the group message took a turn toward propaganda. In the international sphere, there were various groups and trends that may have influenced the agitated, militant milieu that swirled around the TAR: Perceptualismo, in Buenos Aires; Pintores Sociales y Anteo, in Bolivia; Rectángulo, in Chile; O Clube dos Amigos da Gravura, in Porto Alegre, Brazil (influenced by Mexico’s Taller de Gráfica Popular from the 1930s); the new Atelier Coletivo, in Recife, Brazil (also influenced by the ideological stances of the early Mexican muralists); all these were active around 1950. Moreover, the creation of the group Sake-ti, in Guatemala could be mentioned, which promoted social art (1943), and the declaration: The Manifesto of the Independent Artists of Colombia to the Artists of the Americas, proposing Latin American art that was independent of Europe, with the fresco as the medium through which they would instruct the people (1944).