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In this review, Roberto Guevara discusses the exhibition Más duquesas y majas de la calle Carabobo, pinturas, dibujos, collages y acuarelas de Diego Barboza (Caracas: Galería Félix, 1987). Guevara explains that Barboza has returned to painting and to a contemplation of certain reminiscences associated with his earliest experiences with art and his discovery of women. Guevara refers to Barboza’s “unexpected gesture” after the sixteen years he spent breaking with traditional art media, and reviews his career, his first “poetic actions,” and his “expressions.” Guevara quotes Barboza, who “notes that painting is the place if you will, but even more so between today and yesterday, between what we are and what we used to be.”


This review by the Venezuelan critic and curator Roberto Guevara (1932–98) about the exhibition Más duquesas y majas de la calle Carabobo, pinturas, dibujos, collages y acuarelas de Diego Barboza (Caracas: Galería Félix, 1987) was published in “Artes Plásticas,” the weekly column that was one of the most important and extensive repositories of press reports and reviews on the Venezuelan visual arts during the second half of the twentieth century. The review refers to a key moment in Barboza’s career which was seen by some critics and artists (including Guevara) as an “unexpected gesture” from an artist who had, for many years, been the standard bearer for breaking with traditional media. All that notwithstanding, Guevara points out that Barboza has always used drawing to underpin or sketch the art he produced in the street, noting that the artist had frequently tried to reclaim and even maintain the continuity of “playing with the visual arts.” The critic no doubt uses the phrase “unexpected gesture” in a literary sense rather than as a literal statement.  


A year earlier, at the Centro de Bellas Artes de Maracaibo, Barboza had exhibited his Majas and duchesses at Entre la duquesa y la calle Carabobo—his one-man show of drawings, watercolors, and collages. On that occasion he was quoted in the press (El Universal, Caracas, March 29, 1986) as saying: “I allude to paintings such as La duquesa de Alba and Las majas en el balcón, by Goya, and Manet’s The Balcony because these works inspired me to explore the world I inhabited during my childhood and adolescence when I lived on Carabobo street in Maracaibo.”  


In this review, Guevara proposes using the terms “art as people” and “people as art” to describe the collective “expressions” that Barboza started producing in the 1970s. Guevara’s talent is evident, as is his interest in using more precise terminology to refer to the movements, the languages, and even the specific works produced by particular artists. It was Guevara who coined the phrase “aesthetic of marginalization” to refer to Claudio Perna’s conceptual work, and Guevara again came up with the word Reticulárea [a reticle area] to describe the monumental structures created by Gego (Gertrud Goldschmidt).

María Elena Huizi
Fundación Mercantil, Caracas, Venezuela
Roberto Guevara, 1987
CINAP. Centro de Informacion Nacional de Artes Plásticas. Galería de Arte Nacional, Plaza Los Museos, Los Caobos, Caracas.