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José Antonio Torres Martinó, a Puerto Rican artist and critic, states that Rufino Tamayo is in Puerto Rico for a retrospective exhibition that will revolve around the work of the Mexican painter. This show is one of the main events of the VII Bienal de San Juan del Grabado Latinoamericano y del Caribe [7th Biennial of Latin American and Caribbean Graphic Art]. Torres Martinó says that the biennial was scheduled to open on November 19, 1986. Participants included 245 artists from 17 countries with 400 works. Puerto Rico had the most participation: 35 artists, with a total of 59 prints. The writer even mentions that unlike prior biennials, this one was headed by a selection jury, which resulted in a higher quality biennial. Torres Martinó also points out why participation by Puerto Rican artists was so low in Bienal V [the 5th Biennial] (1981) and Bienal VI [the 6th Biennial] (1983). The reason was simple: the artists withdrew in protest of the party politics that had taken hold at the ICP (Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña) [Institute of Puerto Rican Culture] during that time. 


The jury at the VII Bienal de San Juan del Grabado Latinoamericano y del Caribe was made up of Jorge Glusberg, Shifra Goldman, Raquel Tibol, Herman Hebler, Ryszard Orreba, Marcos Irizarry, and Antonio Frasconi. Prizes were awarded to Edgar Álvarez (Colombia), Humberto Castro García (Cuba), Ismael Guardado and Lucía Maya (both from Mexico), Luis Hernández Cruz (Puerto Rico), as well as Liliana Porter and Antonio Seguí (both from Argentina).

The Biennial de San Juan del Grabado Latinoamericano was one of the most important events held in the Caribbean region, given that it fostered an exchange of ideas and contact among different artists. The first of these biennials was organized by the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña [Institute of Puerto Rican Culture] (ICP) in 1970. Printmaking was selected because it was a form of expression that was widely practiced by Puerto Rican artists, who were producing very high quality work. In 1986, “y del Caribe” [and Caribbean] was added to the name of the biennial so it could include that geographic area in the event. Parallel to this change, the biennial included two exhibitions to recognize artists’ work: one to honor a Puerto Rican artist and the other to honor a foreign artist.  

Flavia Marichal Lugo
Museo de Historia, Antropología y Arte, Universidad de Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Courtesy of José A. Torres Martino, San Juan, Puerto Rico