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.
This article, by the Colombian artist Delfina Bernal, was published in the Bogotá newspaper El Tiempo on November 10, 1963. Bernal wrote this article on the occasion of her first solo show at the Arte Contemporáneo gallery in the city of Barranquilla, at which she presented twenty-one oil paintings. She introduces herself in the title of the article as a pupil of the painter Alejandro Obregón and a student at the Universidad del Atlántico. She acknowledges that she is a beginner and states her intention to become a “professional painter” in time. Bernal sees this medium as a vehicle with which to capture and visually express important spiritual elements that transcend figurative anecdotes. She professes her amazement at local art trends that are influenced by the Mexican mural painting of Diego Rivera, in which she sees little depth and even less humanity. At the same time, she acknowledges her solidarity with the Colombian writers Álvaro Medina and Jota Mario Arbeláez, both of whom are members of the Nadaísta [Nothing-ist] movement, an avant-garde Colombian literary group whose conceptual ideas are based on boredom and anxiety, which are characteristics that Bernal claims to identify with on a generational level.
This is the first public document in which Delfina Bernal (b. 1942) discusses her work as a visual artist. Here, she refers to herself as a future “professional painter,” thereby expressing the importance of technique, a key factor in terms of establishing one’s status as a “modern” artist, an all-important qualifying adjective for those who sought to establish themselves in the art circuit of the 1960s. Although the article is somewhat premature, Bernal manages to express herself quite clearly on two matters: her skepticism concerning myths and/or “irrefutable beliefs” and her search for a true visual art identity. Both of these traits, as well as her use of irony, were constant features of her later works, such as Declaración de amor a Jeff Perrone [Declaration of Love for Jeff Perrone] (1979), a series of nine nude photographs of the artist and a declaration of love that she sent to the North American critic Jeff Perrone (b. 1953). In her letter, she lashed out at the politics involved in authors’ rights and the machismo that existed in the art world in the 1970s [see doc. no. 1131111].
The article presents an overview of the state of art and sociopolitical life in Colombia in the 1960s. In those days, Bernal disagreed with the aesthetic ideas proposed by Mexican mural painting, which in Colombia were endorsed by Pedro Nel Gomez (1899–1984) and Luis Alberto Acuña (1904–1984), among other artists who popularized a [Latin American] regionalist style in the 1930s and 1940s. At the same time, Bernal supported the local literary Nadaísmo [Nothing-ism] movement, with which she was involved as a result of her friendship with the writer Álvaro Medina (b. 1942) and her reading of the work of the writer Jota Mario Arbeláez (b. 1940). In 1958, when women’s suffrage was introduced at the initiative of General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla (1900–1975) and a group of women suffragists, Bernal felt compelled to write about the role of women in national politics. She did so by adopting a powerful feminist approach that portrayed women as capable of performing any task.
Delfina Bernal is a Colombian artist. She is a graduate of the Universidad del Atlántico at Barranquilla. During the 1970s, she and Álvaro Herazo, Eduardo Hernández, Fernando Cepeda, and Víctor Sánchez were members of Grupo 44, a group of artists who promoted conceptual and performance art in Colombia.