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The French critic and historian Marianne de Tolentino, who lives in the Dominican Republic, lists the artists who took part in the exhibition, Primer Congreso de Artistas Abstractos de Puerto Rico [First Puerto Rican Abstract Artists Conference] that was presented by the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña [Puerto Rican Cultural Institute]. She mentions the prevalence of abstract styles among the works produced by most contemporary Puerto Rican artists, and notes that the period from 1940 to 1984 was divided into seven periods, including Abstract Expressionism, Geometric Abstraction, and other more intellectual art forms.



The exhibition, Primer Congreso de Artistas Abstractos de Puerto Rico [First Puerto Rican Abstract Artists’ Conference], was organized in 1984 by a group of Puerto Rican artists, one of whom was Luis Hernández Cruz. A forum, “La situación del arte abstracto en Puerto Rico” [The Abstract Art Situation in Puerto Rico], was created to function simultaneously with the exhibition. Those involved in the forum included Luis Hernández Cruz, Myrna Rodríguez, Manuel Pérez Lizano, and Jeanette Miller. Among the artists whose works were shown at the exhibition were Luis Hernández Cruz, Marcos Irizarry, Oscar Mestey, Rolando López Dirube, Tony Bechara, and Zylia Sánchez. 


Luis Hernández Cruz (San Juan, b. 1936) has been a tireless supporter of abstract painting in Puerto Rico. In 1977, he and fellow-artists Lope Max Díaz, Antonio Navia, and Paul Camacho organized a group called Frente [Front] as a means of uniting abstract artists and promoting their work. Hernández Cruz was also a founding member and president of the Congreso de Artistas Abstractos [Abstract Artists Conference], organized in 1984.    


Plástica magazine, where this review was published, was an art publication that appeared fairly regularly in Puerto Rico. It began modestly enough in 1968, as the newsletter of the Liga de arte de San Juan [San Juan Art League], but changed its name in 1978 to Plástica revista de la Liga de estudiantes de San Juan [San Juan Student League Visual Arts Magazine]. Its very specific title notwithstanding, the twenty-one issues of the magazine explored a wide range of subjects within the broad parameters of Puerto Rican and Latin American art, filling its pages with retrospective coverage of subjects, such as the V Bienal de San Juan del grabado latinoamericano y del Caribe [5th San Juan Biennial of Latin American and Caribbean Prints] (1981), Puerto Rican architecture, and Latin American visual arts. The first editorial board of the magazine included Hélène Saldaña, Delta Picó, Cordelia Buitrago, and J.M. García Segovia. In addition to the many essays written by top Puerto Rican thinkers, the magazine published contributions from some of the leading Latin American artists and critics, such as Luis Camnitzer, Damián Bayón, Jacqueline Barnitz, Samuel Cherson, Joseph Alsop, Omar Rayo, and Ricardo Pau Llosa, among many others.


Flavia Marichal
Museo de Historia, Antropología y Arte, Universidad de Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Museo de Historia, Antropología y Arte, Universidad de Puerto Rico, Recinto de Río Piedras