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Painter Pascual Navarro refutes the views of anthropologist and artist Gilberto Antolínez regarding the proposed reforms in the Academia de Artes Plásticas y Aplicadas in Venezuela in 1945. He objects to Antolínez’s prejudice against foreign influences, refuting the validity that he affords the revolution of Mexican muralism because of their rejection of the European models. He also criticizes his repudiation of Venezuelan painting for abandoning the representation of the human figure. Navarro argues that art is the result of the assimilation of traditions through universal processes; while pointing out the influence of the European arts on the so-called “Mexican pictorial revolution.” Finally, he argues that representation of the human figure has been (in the history of art) the pretext for the portrayal of pictorial sensations and not that which is objective. He concludes that a national art must be born of the confluence of the distinct ethnic groups that make up that nation; taking as its basis what it absorbed from the West, from which it cannot be separated.
For a review by José Fabbiani Ruíz of Pascual Navarro’s work, see “Exposición de Pascual Navarro (Fichero Crítico)” [doc. no. 1157920].
In 1945, the proposed reforms at the Academia de Artes Plásticas y Aplicadas in Venezuela caused controversy and debate in the national press. Arguments centered on the ideological and conceptual framework, both artistic and political, that were underlying the requested reforms from both government officials and the students of the institution. These debates exposed a clash among generations of artists in which discussions on “nationalism” and “Europeanism” reappeared, also having an impact on formalisms and avant-garde trends. The controversy regarding the function of the visual arts was in accord with the political moment the country was experiencing, which sought to break with the remains of the dictatorial regime—of General Isaías Medina Angarita (1941–45)—by discussing the foundations of the nascent democratic revolution.
Written by Pascual Navarro Velásquez (1923?85), the text presents various points in relation to the controversy created by the article published in the El Heraldo newspaper on November 11, 1945, under the title “Arte y Revolución” by writer and indigenous supporter Gilberto Antolínez. It should be noted that the discussion on Mexican mural art came later to Venezuela than to other Latin American countries, and so the debate on its value was happening at that moment in Venezuela. Consequently, it easily entered into the deliberations on the reforms that were taking place at the Academy, as a proposed model for instruction.