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In the final article in his series “Conceptos concretos sobre la pintura abstracta,” the Venezuelan journalist and writer Miguel Otero Silva refers to a poll conducted by the French magazine Preuves [Proofs], in which the forty-eight young painters surveyed almost universally rejected abstraction. In the author’s opinion, that style was a response to the rise of European totalitarian regimes and the wars they spawned. In his rose-tinted opinion, however, the postwar period rekindled a sense of optimism. Otero Silva calls on Venezuelan painters to consider three “approaches” he considers to be closest to the subject of mankind and nature, the “primordial, eternal source of painting and poetry:” Mexican muralism, Pablo Picasso, and the painting of his compatriot Luis Guevara Moreno, for whom abstraction was a means rather than an end.
In concluding his series “Conceptos concretos sobre el arte abstracto,” Miguel Otero Silva (1908–85) addresses young abstract artists and suggests some “approaches” he believes to be legitimate. They have discarded (or gone beyond) those ideas since their time at the Taller Libre de Arte (Caracas, 1948). This group despised social realism inspired by Mexican muralism, which they considered antiquated and anti-artistic. Picasso, on the other hand, had been reproduced sufficiently by Alejandro Otero’s series of Las Cafeteras (Museo de Bellas Artes de Caracas, 1949); Nueva Figuración attracted a few devotees because it presented itself, at the end of that decade, as a more modern version of social realism, which had become a worn out tradition. The author identifies the only artist who had embraced the trend at that time, the painter Luis Guevara Moreno, after going to Italy and seeing the work of the communist painter Renato Guttusso; Armando Barrios (the director of the Museo de Bellas Artes) produced geometrized figurative [work] that though decorative, had no social message; and in the 1960s, Carlos González Bogen (who had been a member of Los Disidentes in Paris in 1950) was the last holdout from his generation. In his “three approaches,” Otero Silva acknowledges a greater potential for expressing Venezuelan life, highlighting his favorite idea of “committed art,” which was highly desirable among left wing intellectuals. From that neo-Romantic perspective, he sees in abstraction, science, and technology the signs of an “inhuman” world ruled by machines and mass media, as the philosopher Ortega y Gasset had foretold in La deshumanización del arte (1925). The text of the debate between Miguel Otero Silva and Alejandro Otero Rodríguez was widely read and was reviewed abroad (in Colombia, Cuba, and Argentina); its importance is affirmed 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 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); “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); and “VII. Formas nuevas y sinceridad. Conceptos concretos sobre la pintura abstracta” (doc. no. 856923)].
[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)].