The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
Juan Calzadilla starts this critical text with a general commentary on the concept of “painting” when it is limited to the artist’s self-expression based on discovering a personal language, with the resulting isolation from the environment. He raises the question about whether it is possible for an artist to execute such individualized work while representing an identity at the same time: in this case, being Latin American. In the writer’s opinion, this question underlies all the work of the Venezuelan painter Oswaldo Vigas. Bearing it in mind, Calzadilla reconstructs the artist’s successive discoveries in the process of setting forth his own personal “expressive identity.”
This text by the Venezuelan draftsman and critic Juan Calzadilla (b. 1931) is included in the catalogue for the exhibition Oswaldo Vigas. Imagen de una identidad expresiva. Pinturas 1966–1977. This exhibition was held in the city of Lima (Peru) in 1977. The writer introduces a dimension of individual analysis when he recovers the idea of “identity” in the work of Vigas (1926–2014). However, the writer wields this concept from a point of view that is clearly expressive, linked both to formal solutions and explorations that characterize each of the artist’s periods as of that date. In the 1970s, the painter became increasingly vehement about his interest in a Latin American identity and the role of art in this sphere, especially when faced with the popularity of avant-garde international art. The year he had this exhibit (1977), Vigas stirred up a controversy by questioning the influence of geometric trends in Venezuelan art and their role in the construction of a dubious “identity.” The artist deemed that such an identity was not linked to Venezuela’s cultural beliefs. In that context, Calzadilla revisits the artist’s concern, linking it to the development of his visual art language. In this way, the writer gives visible form to the possibility of a convergence between personal codes and universal explorations.
[Regarding the work of Oswaldo Vigas, see in the ICAA digital archive by Juan Liscano “La reiteración de Vigas” (doc. no. 1152769); by Roberto Montero Castro “Vigas en el ojo ajeno - Plástica e identidad latinoamericana” (doc. no. 1153266) and “Oswaldo Vigas. La lucha por descubrir la identidad americana” (doc. no. 1168108); the text by Joaquín Gabaldón “La monstruosidad en el arte” (doc. no. 850831); the article by Lenelina Delgado “De la pintura al tapiz” (doc. no. 1153365); the article by A. Feltra “Vigas sufre de afán publicitario” (doc. no. 1155580); and by Carlos Silva “Vigas o la lucidez” (doc. no. 1153397). See also the interview by Paco Benmaman “Oswaldo Vigas explosivo: antes las brujas, ahora las bombas” (doc. no. 1153245)].
[There are other texts in which Vigas, himself, gives his opinion about young art in Venezuela, such as in “La sinrazón de mis brujas” (doc. no. 1153349), “Lo que se tiene no se busca” (doc. no. 1152785), as well as “Todos los pueblos necesitan afirmar sus valores culturales en sus propias realidades” (doc. no. 1153220). Also worth considering is the interview with the artist by M. C., “Detesto la palabra búsqueda: Oswaldo Vigas” (doc. no. 1152801)].