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The Venezuelan critic Roberto Guevara introduces the exhibition of works by the first group of artists to have graduated from CEGRA (Centro de Enseñanza Gráfica, Caracas). In his article, Guevara discusses art instruction and describes CEGRA as an institution that breathed new life into the limited spectrum of ideas espoused by other Venezuelan art academies. Guevara also mentions that CEGRA appears to be capable of graduating teachers as well as artists.
In this introduction to the first group of graduates from CEGRA (Centro de Enseñanza Gráfica, Caracas), the critic Roberto Guevara (1932–98) describes it as a graphic arts institute that could train artists to work to a particular methodological standard, explaining that the workshops exposed students to “a profound understanding of each trade (…) CEGRA helped them to grow and then allowed them free reign once they had acquired a certain level of creative proficiency (…) They are developing toward the achievements that are the defining trait of true artists.” Guevara’s view starkly contradicts the opinion expressed by the critic and artist Juan Calzadilla (b. 1931) in the catalogue for the institute’s following generation of graduates—CEGRA / Promoción 1979/1981, julio de 1981 (Caracas: Consejo Nacional de la Cultura / Dirección de Recursos Humanos, 1981)—in which he states that CEGRA’s goal is to produce technicians rather than professional printmakers. According to Calzadilla, “the term ‘technician’ applies to the trade and to guided creativity,” and the institute’s duty is to “train potential creators, not to turn out artists from one day to the next.” Guevara makes no secret of his views on art education in Venezuela since, when he states that CEGRA differs from the “hopeless mediocrity” of other institutes, he appears to be referring to the Escuela de Artes Plásticas Cristóbal Rojas and/or to the first Instituto de Diseño (both of which were in Caracas). Guevara returns to this subject in his essay in the catalogue for an eponymous exhibition: “El CEGRA, cinco años después” (Caracas: CONAC, 1982) [see doc. no. 1153429], in which he writes: “CEGRA arrived at a crucial juncture. Our Visual Arts schools are struggling with a range of problems, from their syllabus to the very nature of what they teach.”
CEGRA was closed in 1990 and incorporated into the Instituto Superior de Arte, IUESAPAR (Instituto Universitario de Estudios Superiores de Artes Plásticas Armando Reverón, founded in Caracas in 1991), which was in turn absorbed by the Universidad Nacional Experimental de las Artes (UNEARTE, founded in Caracas in 2008).