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In this critical essay, Roberto Guevara reviews Elsa Gramcko’s geometric abstraction work. Guevara discusses the importance of the abstract movement (to which he belongs) in Venezuela in the 1950s, which he sees as a new and vigorous expression of the visual arts. He sketches a broad description of Gramcko’s geometric work, analyzing the factors that contributed to her development as an artist and prompted her to abandon her geometric abstraction phase in order to explore Informalism.
This essay by the poet and art critic Roberto Guevara (1932–98)—about the work created by the visual artist Elsa Gramcko (1925–94), who was also Venezuelan—was published in El Nacional, the Caracas newspaper, in 1969, on the occasion of the exhibition at the Estudio Actual gallery in Caracas of a selection of works she had produced prior to her first show in Venezuela. Referring exclusively to Gramcko’s exhibition of abstract paintings, Guevara ignored her most recent works (classified as Informalist) in order to focus on her earlier, geometric abstraction period (Etapa Geométrica, curated by Juan Carlos López Quintero, at the Galería de Arte Nacional, in 1997). Although Guevara does not mention the Informalist movement as such, he does hint at it in his references to concepts and descriptions, particularly as regards textures, subject matter, and the allusion to organic matter, such as bones, leaves, and shells.
This essay is of great interest because it is a “link” between two very different styles that strongly influenced Gramcko’s work. It also helps to explain the transition from the geometrical to the Informalist phase, since Guevara discerns a process of evolution from one to the other rather than a break between them. The essay is also important because of its review of Gramcko’s geometric phase, which came before her Informalist period (1957–60) that, on the whole, overshadowed her earlier work. Her next “texture and black” phase (1960–61) was necessary, in Guevara’s opinion, because it allowed her to take a new approach to the subject.