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.
The philosophy student in Paris, J. R. Guillent Pérez, tells the basic reasons that led a group of Venezuelan artists to form the group, Los Disidentes [The Dissidents], in Paris in 1950. He believes that the fact that he was a participant right from the beginning explains his stance toward the debate the group has been carrying on with Marta Traba. Guillent Pérez states that the objective of Los Disidentes was to denounce both their dependency and the cultural subservience of Latin American peoples to Western culture. But they also belonged to Western culture, so, like it or not, they would have to fall in behind it. That was why the group was organized for struggle, taking a leading role under the terms of Western culture. Los Disidentes would give a Latin American response to the West’s postwar crisis, whose impact on the art world was particularly strong. For this same reason, the group “se contemporaneizaron” [joined the modern world,] casting off all regionalist traditions, assuming new visual arts languages.
In this article, J. R. Guillent Pérez uses a philosophical reading to justify the reasons for his dispute with the Colombian critic originally from Argentina, Marta Traba (1930-83). This controversy began when she published the article, “El arte latinoamericano: un falso apocalipsis” [Latin American Art: a False Apocalypse] (“Papel Literario,” El Nacional, Caracas, May 2, 1965). Traba’s central point was her criticism of the Latin American artists who had adopted the postulates of the international avant-gardes. The debate went on for several months, more or less until September of the same year, and in addition to Traba and J. R. Guillent Pérez, the other main participants were the Venezuelan painters, Alejandro Otero, Roberto Guevara and Alirio Rodríguez. As justification, Guillent Pérez tells the story of how the group to which he belonged, Los Disidentes, came into being 15 years earlier. This group was formed by Venezuelan artists and writers who lived and worked as artists/writers in Paris between 1945 and 1952. From there, they proposed a struggle to renew traditional and academic art by assimilating the values of European Abstract art. The Venezuelan painters included: Alejandro Otero, Pascual Navarro, Mateo Manaure, Luis Guevara Moreno, Carlos González Bogen, Narciso Debourg, Perán Erminy, Rubén Núñez, Dora Hersen, Aimée Battistini, as well as Guillent Pérez, who was a young man studying philosophy at the time. They published five issues of a journal named after the group, Los Disidentes, which was their main medium of communications. Thus, Guillent Pérez found the source of his own arguments in the postulates of Los Disidentes and their struggle to respond to the crisis of Western culture. Faced with that crisis and wishing to assume leading roles as participants and critics, these Venezuelan artists had adopted the visual arts languages of the European avant-garde.