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In this catalog essay for the exhibition “Por un arte del mañana…” (For the Art of Tomorrow…) held in Cumana on October 23, 1960, the Venezuelan poet, painter and art critic Juan Calzadilla first notes that the public tends to form an opinión of artistic movements through the main artists of each movement. Then he argues that certain steps must be taken to allow artists to say something meaningful to the public through their work. The objective of informal art, then, is to clear a space for total freedom within artistic practice, so that the artist can explore his or her emotions and free herself from the social constraints that have dictated her relations with the world. This total freedom, Calzadilla says, can be distilled in the act by which a work of art is created. By inviting viewers to focus on the creative act, one can avoid negative judgments, so that artists do not risk having their work called unpleasant or ugly. Instead, artists have the opportunity to open up a new world, “released from chains of perception determined by science” and instead infused with the emerging power of the human spirit, one must allow artists complete creative freedom; everything must be permitted.
Juan Calzadilla (b. 1931) promoted Informal art heavily in the early 1960s, because he thought it provided a powerful alternative to the academic styles that many institutions supported at the time. He sought a vital stylistic counterpoint to the landscapes and figurative paintings collected by the national museum of Venezuela (for a longer essay that mentions state-supported art in Venezuala, see Calzadilla’s essay “"Los tiempos heroicos. Genesis del arte contemporáneo en Venezuela en el marco del nacimiento de una sala".” [see the ICAA digital archive (doc. no. 1279499)]. It is likely that “Por un arte del mañana…” concentrates on issues of artistic freedom because of the censorship measures enacted by Venezuelan president Rómulo Betancourt at the beginning of his second term as president (1958-1964). In reaction to these measures, personal artistic freedom became a key issue within avant-garde movements in Venezuela, and Calzadilla couches this within the mandates of Informal art. This essay also detaches the work of art from the kind of legibility and clarity that was emphasized in Venezuela’s art academies, emphasizing instead a combination of action and material that did not have to form a readable image.
Juan Calzadilla co-founded the Venezuelan avant-garde group El Techo de Ballena (Caracas, 1961-68) and was heavily involved in the emerging ecosystem of avant-garde galleries in Caracas, including the influential gallery Sala Mendoza. For more exhibition catalog essays by Calzadilla on Venezuelan art of the 1960s, see the untitled essay for Salón Experimental, October 1960 [see the ICAA digital archive (doc. no. 1279579)], “Prólogo. Los años turbulentos” of 1960 [see the ICAA digital archive (doc. no. 1279563)], and “Por un arte de hoy…” of December 1960 [see the ICAA digital archive (doc. no. 1279643)].