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    CODA para la VII Bienal de San Juan

    Plástica, Revista de la Liga de Arte de San Juan (San Juan, Puerto Rico). -- Vol. 1, no. 16 (Mar. 1987)


    Journal article – Reviews
    Tibol, Raquel. "CODA para la VII Bienal de San Juan." Plastica, Revista de la Liga de Arte de San Juan (San Juan, Puerto Rico), vol. 1, no. 16 (March 1987).
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The Mexican writer and art critic Raquel Tibol questions the validity of international biennials. However, she believes they are important for stimulating changes and innovations. She talks about the change from the rule that provided for each judge to award one prize to the current rule, whereby prizes are awarded by majority vote. The rule change prevented the award of a prize to the work El elegido [The Chosen] by Puerto Rican Nelson Sambolín, which was the work Tibol would have selected under the old rule. Nonetheless, Tibol questions the artists who do not precisely break down the media used in their works. She states that there was nothing innovative in the new artwork at the VII Bienal de San Juan del Grabado Latinoamericano y del Caribe [7th San Juan Biennial of Latin American and Caribbean Graphic Art] (1986). However, the organization of that biennial helped strengthen it as a key event in Puerto Rico.


The jury for the VII Bienal consisted of Antonio Frasconi (a Uruguayan based in the United States since 1948), Marcos Irizarry (a Puerto Rican who spends most of the year in Ibiza, Spain), Ryszard Otreba (Poland), Herman Hebler (Norway), Shifra M. Goldman (United States), Raquel Tibol (Mexico), and Jorge Glusberg (Argentina).



The Biennial de San Juan del Grabado Latinoamericano was one of the most important events held in the Caribbean region, given that it fostered an exchange of ideas and contact among different artists. The first of these biennials was organized by the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña [Institute of Puerto Rican Culture] (ICP) in 1970. Printmaking was selected because it was a form of expression that was widely practiced by Puerto Rican artists, who were producing very high quality work. In 1986, “y del Caribe” [and Caribbean] was added to the name of the biennial so it could include that geographic area in the event. Parallel to this change, the biennial included two exhibitions to recognize artists’ work: one to honor a Puerto Rican artist and the other to honor a foreign artist. 


The Puerto Rican artists, after refusing to participate in either the V Bienal or the VII Bienal [5th or 6th Biennial] for political reasons, resumed their participation in the VII Bienal.


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