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.
In this essay, Francisco Da Antonio discusses the career of the Venezuelan naïf painter Elsa Morales, whom he discovered, promoted, and studied. The essay refers to the major reviews of her exhibitions, beginning with the first one in 1969 (written by Perán Erminy and Juan Calzadilla), and to interviews by Armando José Sequera and Teresa Alvarenga. The essayist provides a very detailed list of the thematic, technical, and formal changes in Elsa Morales’ work, whose inspiration ranged from social issues to the subject of love, never neglecting her verbal expression couched in poetic language. In his opinion, over and above her role as a noted Venezuelan woman artist, Morales represents the most fundamental aspect of Venezuelan naïf painting in the twentieth century, based on her personal experience of Caracas and her grasp of contemporary social conflicts.
In this essay the critic, pedagogue, and researcher Francisco Da Antonio (b. 1930) explains that—in order to understand the art of a naïf painter like the Venezuelan Elsa Morales (1946–2007)—it helps to observe, at close quarters, her daily tribulations, ideas, and thoughts as she, a woman from the country, anxiously confronts the challenges of the inhospitable capital city. Other critics, such as Perán Erminy and Juan Calzadilla confirm that the author discovered this painter and quickly recognized her talent. With no academic training at all, either in the visual arts or in a scholastic sense, Morales ignored the preconceived idea of folk art as an idyllic depiction of natural or social rural scenes, and focused mainly on the harsh, bleak realities of marginalization, such as police repression, political struggle, and poverty and, to a lesser extent, on conjugal strife, love, still life, and nudes. The critic Da Antonio discusses her technical development (from cardboard support to canvas, from oil to acrylics) that evolved hand-in-hand with an increasingly poetic tone, always in full command of her visual and verbal expression. This essay is valuable because it offers broad, critical, and detailed insights into the unique career of a folk artist who—in her greatest triumph—held onto her rebellious spirit until the end of her days.