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This is the fourth article in the series by writer Miguel Otero Silva on “Conceptos concretos sobre la pintura abstracta,” in which he discusses abstract painting from an ideological instead of a visual perspective. He believes that art can be used for liberating, if repressive, ends; sometimes pure art is a symbolic form of social rejection. He believes that both European postwar periods created fertile ground for a number of isms, marked by the replacement of content with form, that were presented to the public and to artists as escapisms. In the opinion of Otero Silva, by privileging technique and form, abstraction becomes less understandable and therefore prevents art from being a “medium for spiritual contact among mankind.”
In this section of his long discussion with the painter Alejandro Otero (1921–90), the writer Miguel Otero Silva (1908–85) distances himself from the formalist field to express his ideological critique. As the painter César Rengifo did before him (in 1948), Otero Silva describes abstract art as an escape; he calls it an escapist behavior that emerged in response to the European postwar periods, which destroyed mankind’s self-confidence. The style’s main flaw, as he sees it, is that it deprives the public of the references to mankind and nature that help to make art generally understandable. This left wing humanistic perspective, coupled with a respect for committed art, was widespread among Venezuelan art critics and members of the general public who were accustomed to landscape painting and social realism. On this occasion, however, the author does not single out any one artist in particular. The debate between Miguel Otero Silva and Alejandro Otero Rodríguez was widely followed, and was reviewed in other countries (Colombia, Cuba, and Argentina); its importance is underscored by the number of times it has been published in Venezuela (1957, 1967, 1976, 1980, 1993, and 2001).
[For other articles by Miguel Otero Silva about this subject, see in the ICAA digital archive “I. Un relato necesario. Conceptos concretos sobre la pintura abstracta” (doc. no. 855537); “II. Una división sin contenido plástico. Conceptos concretos sobre la pintura abstracta” (doc. no. 855992); “III. Aparición y desarrollo del abstraccionismo. Conceptos concretos sobre la pintura abstracta” (doc. no. 856012); “V. Sobre el mundo interior de los abstraccionistas. Conceptos concretos sobre la pintura abstracta” (doc. no. 856050); “VI. El regreso a lo funcional y lo decorativo. Conceptos concretos sobre la pintura abstracta” (doc. no. 856069); “VII. Formas nuevas y sinceridad. Conceptos concretos sobre la pintura abstracta” (doc. no. 856923); and “VIII. Orientaciones de una nueva pintura. Conceptos concretos sobre la pintura abstracta” (doc. no. 8569442)].
[It all begins with the first reply by Miguel Otero Silva to Alejandro Otero entitled “Sobre unas declaraciones disidentes del pintor Alejandro Otero Rodríguez” (doc. no. 813737)].