The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
In this article, the Venezuelan painter, Pascual Navarro, expands on some of the principles underlying the creation of the group, Los Disidentes [The Dissidents] (Paris, 1950). The article is a response to the group’s detractors, who were Venezuelans living in Venezuela. Navarro postulates “la desconfianza” [mistrust] as the engine that drives the questioning of Los Disidentes about Venezuelan cultural reality. This mistrust is a response to all the so-called “seguridades” [securities] that, in his opinion, have kept the artists’ work in a static situation, as “lastre” [deadwood], without progress. The dissident painter states that the purpose of being distanced from Venezuelan reality—the most frequent accusation against the group, which he considers “false nationalism”— is to be able to observe the country objectively, to react against it and to surpass it.
“Los Disidentes” was a group formed in Paris in 1950, by a group of Venezuelan artists and writers who lived and worked as artists in that city between 1945 and 1952. From there, they proposed a struggle against the official education imparted by the Escuela de Artes Plásticas [School of Visual Arts] in Caracas, whose instruction principles were based on landscape art and Native art trends. Specifically, they sought to renew traditional and academic art through the assimilation of values intrinsic to European Abstract art. The group had a large presence among painters and counted, as members: Pascual Navarro (1923–1985), Alejandro Otero, Mateo Manaure, Luis Guevara Moreno, Carlos González Bogen, Narciso Debourg, Perán Erminy, Rubén Núñez, Dora Hersen, Aimée Battistini, and the philosophy student, J.R. Guillén Pérez.* Other Venezuelans joined the group later. They published five issues of a journal named after the group, Los Disidentes, which was their main medium of communications.The impact Los Disidentes had achieved in the Venezuelan cultural world by this fifth issue of the journal was unquestionable, since most of the articles in the journal were written as a response to its detractors. This article by Navarro is a good example of that. Such attacks were predicted by Los Disidentes starting with the third issue of the journal, and they were prepared to mount a defense. In this case, the argument runs against the nationalist currents, which—in the critical opinion of Los Disidentes—regard the influence of foreign and exotic trends as the source of the contamination of national art. In his response, Navarro makes the gap even more dramatic. He calls into question the very basis of tradition, stating his desconfianza in it. He frankly assumes complete abandonment of that reality for the single, firm purpose of surpassing it. Put this way, any reconciliation between the two opposed universes becomes impossible, and what is offered, instead, is a new chapter in the confrontation between nationalism and universal languages.