Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art Home


Document first page thumbnail

In “Armando Barrios,” his essay about the Venezuelan artist, the critic Roberto Guevara reviews Armando Barrios. Retrospectiva, the exhibition presented at the Galería de Arte Nacional from 1977 through 1978. Guevara reviews the exhibition and discusses the painter’s early works and “Cubist attempts.” He then refers to specific works with stylized figures, chiaroscuro effects, and a noticeable use of line, all of which were part of Barrios’ painting toward the end of this period (circa 1948). Guevara sees something new starting in 1949; the figures acquire greater plasticity and simplicity. He believes Barrios has gone through years of hesitation followed by a brief foray into Abstraction. Guevara then notices that Barrios incorporates a compositional abstract base which contributes to his return to Figuration. In other words, this is his densest, most detailed, and definitive phase, after which he became mired in the stagnation that can be detected as from 1965.  


The essay “Armando Barrios” is a review of the retrospective exhibition of the same name. In it, the Venezuelan art critic Roberto Guevara (1932–98) suggests that the painter’s work—its compositional and color achievements notwithstanding—is unquestionably decorative. Guevara examines these paintings by Armando Barrios (1920–99), exhibited at the GAN (Galería de Arte Nacional) from December 1977 to February 1978, and finds a certain unity of style throughout the course of his career. The critic nonetheless detects some stagnation in his later works, as well as a sense of exhaustion after having overused the repetitive formula based on “a tradition” that made him a well-known painter. The essay was subsequently included in Guevara’s book Ver todos los días. This retrospective was the most complete exhibition Barrios had ever had; it included over eight hundred paintings and 52 sketches, and the catalogue was profusely illustrated (with black & white photographs) of all the exhibited works. Unfortunately the illustrations are small and hard to see, which does not help those attempting to contribute critical opinions.         


Incidentally, Guevara’s essay was one of a number of reviews of this momentous exhibition; his remarks therefore represent one more point of view concerning the evolution of Barrios’ work, that tended to be flatteringly reviewed by a substantial number of critics in Venezuela at that time.   


To read another essay about the work of Armando Barrios, see by Víctor Guédez “Lo permanente / La pintura y la música” [doc. no. 1158033].

Felix Hernadez
Fundación Mercantil, Caracas, Venezuela
Roberto Guevara, 1981
Biblioteca Félix Hernández