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In this text, Roberto Guevara provides a brief critical overview of Venezuelan artist Mateo Manaure’s artistic development. In Manaure’s case, Guevara explains, it is difficult to apply the idea that all aspects of an artist must be taken into account in considering his body of work: the language of Manaure’s production has undergone many radical changes. The text provides a brief description of the [developmental] stages of his art, from Surrealist and abstract-geometrical work to imaginary landscapes and Informalist explorations, and finally, a return to geometric design. In Guevara’s view, such a variable body of work loses strength with each change of course; no approach is ever fully explored or formulated in a coherent fashion


Venezuelan critic Roberto Guevara (1932–98) published this text on the occasion of Columnas policromadas, a solo exhibition of painting by Mateo Manaure (b. 1926) organized at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Caracas in 1977. The works in that exhibition were based on the interaction and repetition of lines and colors to produce a simple volumetric effect. This body of abstract work furthered the Cuvisiones series presented in the early seventies, which was based on the repetition of flat forms. The “polychromatic columns” in this exhibition, in a sense, served to bring the artist’s abstract cycle to a close since, in the early eighties, he returned to figurative work. Guevara is concerned with the many changes in Manaure’s language as the artist undertakes a series of explorations that yield, in the critic’s view, incoherent results or open up areas that he fails to explore in depth. For Guevara, Manaure’s greatest contributions are his abstract-geometric pictorial works from the fifties and his experiments with informalism (see the Suelos de mi tierra series). Guevara questions as well Manaure’s crucial choice to abandon abstraction out of a “commitment” to Venezuelan reality. Guevara often defended the value of purely visual contributions to art that go beyond the “commitments” and “causes” upheld by artists. The question of contribution, rather than the ideal, is—for the critic—a criterion on the basis of which to assess an artist’s career and to distinguish outstanding, as well as less fortunate, moments.


Pertinent as well is a text by Alejando Otero—a member, like Manaure, of the anti-traditionalist Los Disidentes group in Paris (1950)—in which he traces the beginnings of Manaure’s career in “Mateo Manaure en la pintura: un joven pintor venezolano” [doc. no. 813639]. Perán Erminy’s text “Las imágenes poéticas de Manaure” [doc. no. 1156523] discusses the Pinturas sobremontaje.


For other texts on Mateo Manaure’s work, see by Víctor Guédez “La creación estético-visual en Mateo Manaure” [doc. no. 1155531]; by Roberto Guevara “Manaure y la inmensa noche” [doc. no. 1156411], and “Manaure y las Cuvisiones” [doc. no. 1156459]; by Alfredo Boulton “Mateo Manaure en el Museo de Bellas Artes” [doc. no. 1157497]; by Gastón Diehl “Mateo Manaure” [doc. no. 1156491]; the article by Teresa Alvarenga “Mi obra de hoy: Mateo Manaure llega a los 50 años” [doc. no. 1156427]; the article by Pedro Lhaya “Mateo Manaure o la autenticidad pictórica americana” [doc. no. 1156443]; and the critical text by Manaure “La escuela de artes plásticas de frente y de perfil” [doc. no. 813569] on the history of the Escuela de Artes Plásticas de Caracas.

Rigel García
Fundación Mercantil, Caracas, Venezuela
Roberto Guevara, 1997
CINAP. Centro de Informacion Nacional de Artes Plásticas. Galería de Arte Nacional, Plaza Los Museos, Los Caobos, Caracas. Cota: CINAP / carpeta V. 26 Catálogos