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    Testimonio : El intelectual de izquierda y cierta estética revolucionaria
    Sardio : Revista Bimestral de Cultura (Caracas, Venezuela). -- No. 7 (Abr.-May., 1960)
    p. 429-434
    Journal article – Essays

“Testimonio: El intelectual de izquierda y cierta estética revolucionaria” the editorial published in issue Nº 7 (April–May, 1960) of Revista Sardio (Caracas, 1958–61) analyzes and compares the validity and authenticity of commitment in the spheres of life and art. After asserting the urgent need for the intellectual to take an active position in the ideological dynamic of the times, the text questions leftist writers who, with “false revolutionary decorum,” produce meaningless work that only serves to further the mediocrity of society. The text places emphasis on the aesthetic and ideological damage done by leftist fanaticism and intelligentsia. It argues that the authenticity of artistic commitment is measured by the critical spirit with which it responds to artistic and life’s pressing needs. Any other approach is the “opportunism” of those with “passing interests”; they produce artwork that—like socialist realism—is transformed into an alienated and conventional after-effect.


By way of an editorial, “Testimonio: El intelectual de izquierda y cierta estética revolucionaria” opens the seventh issue (April–May, 1960) of Sardio, Revista Bimestral de Cultura (Caracas, 1958–1961); a total of eight issues would be published by 1961.


This text is characteristic of the debates between leftist activists in Venezuela passionately voiced in the cultural magazines and journals founded in the country in the late fifties and early sixties. Debates ensued not only between contributors to the magazine and other groups of artists—there were many such exchanges between the staffs of Sardio and the more radical Tabla Redonda (Caracas, 1959–61), for instance—but also between those working at Sardio. Indeed, those debates ultimately led to the group’s disbandment in 1961. The editorial suggests differences and affinities, some of them subtle and others dramatic, on aesthetic and ideological issues decisive to the Venezuelan cultural left in those years. This editorial, or “statement,” accentuates ethical divisions.


The writers (narrators, poets, and playwrights), critics, and researchers clustered around Sardio included Salvador Garmendia, Ramón Palomares, Adriano González León, Guillermo Sucre, Gonzalo Castellanos, Luis García Morales, Elisa Lemer, Rodolfo Izaquirre, Rómulo Aranguibel, Antonio Pascuali, Héctor Malavé Mata, Francisco Pérez Perdomo, Edmundo Aray, and Caupolicán Ovalles; visual artists like Manuel Quintana Castillo, Carlos Contramaestre, Omar Carreño, and Marco Miliani also contributed to the magazine.


A number of books were published and exhibitions organized in conjunction with the magazine. Though short-lived, Sardio is an essential point of reference in the history of contemporary Venezuelan literature and the visual arts; its influence on later generations is patent. The magazine’s initial formulations provide an overview of the later manifestations of its aspirations, which were imbued with the effervescence surrounding its founding and in keeping with its historical precedents. The enthusiasm and exaltation in response to the end, in January 1958, of the dictatorship under Marcos Pérez Jiménez created an environment in Venezuela ripe for change and allowed for the emergence of a new aesthetic sensibility and new political conditions. By eschewing costumbrismo, local color, landscape painting, socialist realism, and excessive aestheticism, Sardio made way for a spirit of cultural renewal based on constant debate and questioning (largely from its own pages) of what had been the hegemonic parameters of art. El Techo de la Ballena, a group active in Caracas from 1961 to 1968, would emerge with the disbandment of Sardio; that later group’s strategies and stances were more subversive and provocative than those of its predecessor. 


The “statements” published in this and other issues of the magazine would evidence its history and development. See “Testimonio” (Nº 1. May–June, 1958) (ICAA digital archive doc. no. 1172206), the magazine’s foundational text; “Testimonio: Las constantes de nuestra generación de la revista Sardio” (Caracas, Nº 5–6, January–April, 1959) (doc. no. 112237); and “Testimonio sobre Cuba” (Nº 8, May–June, 1961).

Josefina Manrique
Fundación Mercantil, Caracas, Venezuela
Biblioteca Nacional, Caracas, Colección Publicaciones Seriadas de la Biblioteca Nacional