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, Miguel Otero Silva expresses his reservations concerning abstract artists who presume to see their subjectivity or internal world in universal human terms. Given their provincial origins and limited schooling, Otero Silva maintains that although they appear to have genuine artistic talent, young Venezuelan abstract painters do not express their own nature, they are simply repeating Calvinist designs, and are enamored with geometry (for example, Piet Mondrian). Otero Silva compares a robot to a beach on the island of Margarita, suggesting that the latter is more closely related to a Venezuelan painter’s own experience.
In this article, the writer and journalist Miguel Otero Silva (1908–85) ratchets up his questioning of abstract painting, and accuses Venezuelan painters of “a lack of authenticity” when they defend their art as being an expression of an internal world, “reflecting a modern, complicated spirit.” The allusion to their provincial origins and limited schooling would, in the critic’s opinion, diminishes their grasp of theory, leaving them to repeat foreign ideas that have no basis in their own personal experience. There had never been any denigrating criticism of this sort in Venezuela before, just as artists had never had to express their ideas in writing. Otero Silva sees a total disconnect between Venezuelan and European sensibilities, and denies an artist’s right to modernize. This was a dismissal of the theoretical ideas expressed by the group Los Disidentes (Paris, 1950), especially by Alejandro Otero, who was the most intellectual member of the group of Venezuelan artists living in Paris at that time. The journalist therefore contradicts the painter’s views. The text of the debate between Miguel Otero Silva and Alejandro Otero Rodríguez was printed and published by the Ministerio de Educación Nacional (1957). It was widely read and was reviewed abroad (in Colombia, Cuba, and Argentina); its importance is endorsed by the number of times is has been reprinted in Venezuela (1967, 1976, 1980, 1993, and 2001).
[For other articles by Miguel Otero Silva on 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); “IV. Ubicación social del abstraccionismo. Conceptos concretos sobre la pintura abstracta” (doc. no. 856031); 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. 856942)].
[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)].