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Roberto Pizano, an artist, critic, and cultural promoter, comments on the first individual exhibition of Coriolano Leudo Obando. Pizano covers three aspects of the artist’s work: his influences or visual and poetic sources, the construction of the triptych Madre Tierra [Mother Earth] (1920), and an analysis of the portraits shown by the artist from Bogotá. Comparing the artist’s work with that of the distinguished Spanish painter, Ignacio Zuloaga, Pizano characterizes Leudo’s work as resolutely national and universal.
This article by Roberto Pizano Restrepo (Bogotá, 1896–1929) on the first exhibition of the artist Coriolano Leudo Obando (Bogotá, 1866–Villeta, 1957), goes beyond a criticism of the work. In the article, Pizano’s line of argument is a superb explanation of the strong commitment felt by Colombian critics and artists to the Spanish art tradition. In this regard, it should come as no surprise that his evaluation of Leudo’s work is based on his opposition to the French art tradition. The French tradition was evident in Colombia in the artwork of the painters Ricardo Acevedo Bernal (1867–1930) and Andrés de Santa María (1860–1945), both of whom died in Europe. This is the field in which Leudo Obando opposes one of the major, most successful Colombian academic artists, Epifanio Garay (1849–1903), who also was educated overseas (in Paris). According to Pizano, the fact that Leudo sought the definition of “las raíces de la raza” [the roots of the race] in the legacy of Diego Rivera (1886–1957), Diego Velázquez (1599–1660), and Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746–1828) is in no way a coincidence. In turning to these influences, Leudo turned away from the “distinction,” “grace,” and “external elegance” prized by French art training. The values Pizano finds in Leudo’s sources, on the other hand, are “forceful construction” and “the qualities of materials obtained with plentiful use of oil colors,” “manly elegance,” and “popular elements.” Against this background, Pizano’s judgment of Leudo’s work accords it a higher level than that of Zuloaga, who was one of the most respected artists on the Colombian art scene in the early twentieth century. From Pizano’s perspective, Leudo’s work is clearly Colombian and more universal than that of Zuloaga because both the milieu that surrounds him and his ideas about race are categories that come from La Filosofía del Arte [The Philosophy of Art] (1865), written by the historian and literary critic, Hypolite Taine (1828–1893). This is not just the positivism characteristic of a “young people”; rather, the artist’s work is rooted in the great universal literary works and literary tradition of his own country. To Pizano, this tradition is incarnated in the work of the Colombian poets José Asunción Silva (1865–1896) and Guillermo Valencia (1873–1943), contemporaries of Leudo.