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Antonio Berni writes about the sculptural works of the colonial period, paying particular attention to the colors used by the artists. He goes on to discuss the evolution of the Quito [Equador] school, and discusses the realistic nature of the figures that were created to make an impression on the people of that time and place.
Antonio Berni was born in Rosario, Province of Santa Fe, in 1905 and died in Buenos Aires in 1981). Berni went to Europe in 1925 to study art. He settled in Paris, where he became involved with the Surrealist avant-garde and began exploring the Communist theories that were in vogue at the time. On his return to Argentina, he arranged an exhibition of his Surrealist works at the Asociación Amigos del Arte in 1932. A year later, Berni joined the Equipo Polígrafo (the group founded by David Alfaro Siqueiros), which created the mural called Ejercicio Plástico [Plastic Exercise]. His theory of Nuevo Realismo [New Realism], an artistic expression of political and social commitment, evolved out of his vision of transcendent realism. In 1944, Berni founded the Taller de Arte Mural [Mural Art Workshop]. During the 1950s, he produced a number of paintings that depicted rural life, set mainly in the northern Argentine province of Santiago del Estero. These were, in fact, the first chapters in his narrative series of collages featuring his character Juanito Laguna. In 1962 he was awarded the grand prize for print and drawing at the Venice Biennale. The following year he began his Ramona Montiel series. During the ’60s and ‘70s—while continuing to produce paintings, collages, and prints—he created objects, installations, and happenings, and explored stylistic variations in the field of realistic figuration. This document is of interest because it outlines Berni’s thoughts on sculptural works from the colonial period in Quito. This is one of several newspaper articles on colonial art, that were written in the form of essays, in which Berni reveals his method for analyzing the various works. He includes technical assessments (in this case paying close attention to the use of color), and a commentary on the social conditions of the period. In Berni’s opinion, the evolution of the Quito school is an example of how to handle a historical narrative, and is a valid basis for reviewing contemporary culture.