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The art critic for the New York Times, Holland Cotter, introduces the artist Beatriz González—who is also an art critic—as an artist who defies the conventions imposed by the North American and European art markets and sets her own rules as regards expectations for art that is both international and authentic. He mentions the characteristic ambiguity of this Colombian artist’s style and her references to local topics (related to photojournalism and propaganda). Cotter begins by reviewing González’s painting Los Suicidas del Sisga I [The Suicides at the Sisga I], and describing the various stages of her long career. Cotter thinks it original of her to find inspiration in the mass media, since art in Latin America is usually associated with the European academic tradition. He discusses the irreverence and creativity of her paintings based on the works of artists such as the Italian painter Leonardo Da Vinci and the French artists Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, and Auguste Renoir, and recalls the formal complexity of the paintings and drawings she produced in the 1980s when she decided to paint the contemporary history of her country. Good examples of that period are the two versions of Señor Presidente, qué honor estar con Usted [Mr. President, What an Honor to be with You], that portray violence as an existential condition. Cotter mentions that her work in the 1990s was influenced by the French artist Paul Gauguin and newspaper photographs of the mothers of kidnapped Colombian soldiers. Cotter ends his review by comparing González to North American artists such as Andy Warhol—in both an artistic and a commercial sense—and underscores the fact that, by the late 1990s the intentionally peripheral nature of her work had become a source of pride.
This review was published on the occasion of the retrospective exhibition of works by the Colombian artist Beatriz González (b. 1938) that was held in New York in 1998. Holland Cotter, one of the main art critics at the New York Times, provides a detailed summary of her career, reviewing and describing some of her pieces in terms of their cultural and political context, and highlighting the innovative and perceptive nature of her painting. He also looks at her work from temporal and spatial vantage points that help to grasp its defining qualities and characteristics. From the perspective of time, Cotter reminds the reader of fairly well-known aspects that were considered interesting and innovative in the 1990s—although González had already been addressing them since the 1970s—such as the emphasis on the provincial nature of her work. And, in terms of space, he discusses why those who are unfamiliar with Colombia (North Americans in particular) can find her work hard to understand as a result of its deliberately non-academic language, its irony, and its local references; especially because its richness and depth render it defiant, suggestive, and intriguing.
This review complements the article about González written by the curator and art critic Carolina Ponce de León (b. 1957) titled “La historia extensa de Colombia” [The Extensive History of Colombia] [see doc. # 1088156].