The essay “Anatomía de un Método” [Anatomy of a Method] by the Colombian painter and draftsman Samuel Montealegre (b. 1940) was written as an introduction to the exhibition of sculptures by Eduardo Ramírez Villamizar (1922–2004) at the XXXVII Bienal de Venecia [37th Venice Biennial] in 1976. Montealegre was named Commissioner for Colombia for that particular Venice Biennial, and he chose Ramírez Villamizar as the country’s only representative. The latter then set about creating 6 large abstract sculptures for the exhibition. Montealegre was a regular visitor at the sculptor’s studio and watched as the pieces took shape. The sculptures in question were made of metal and painted red, black, and white. They were all horizontal, measuring approximately 2 meters wide by 40 centimeters high and 40 centimeters deep. It should be noted that this was the first time that Ramírez had worked in this horizontal format which, according to Montealegre, was not premeditated but evolved as part of the sculptor’s process. This was probably what inspired Montealegre to write about the sculptor’s method, to describe Ramírez Villamizar’s process rather than the final result. The essay states that “the finished work is testimony to the energy required to produce it. Future generations will place it and classify it in terms of social and cultural evolution. We, the sculptor’s contemporaries, can enjoy the presence of the object and can also witness its creation, documenting the flow of energy involved as it seeks its own expression in the form of these images.”
Montealegre’s essay sheds light on an interesting side of Ramírez Villamizar’s work as he explores aspects of sculpting that are not entirely rational, such as intuition, chance, and instinct. When Ramírez Villamizar was interviewed by the writer Fausto Panesso (see doc. # 1093112) in 1975 he described his process as follows: “Many sculptors start from an idea; they draw something that inspires them and more ideas begin to flow as they keep drawing. That doesn’t work for me; I have to create three-dimensional things from the very beginning. So I work with cardboard or pieces of wood that I put together and bit by bit things start to happen. Often nothing happens at all for quite some time. Then suddenly something will emerge and I’ll look at it and take it a little further (…). Sometimes I spend weeks searching (…). Sometimes something will happen in a couple of days; maybe I’ll think I have something and then it doesn’t work because I see a little angle that seduces me and makes me explore in that direction and it leads to a good piece of sculpture (…). But it is so hard to choose! To know where things come from!” This constant process of exploration of form, materials, and techniques is what interests Montealegre. In his opinion, when we look at Ramírez Villamizar’s sculptures we should look beyond the finished product and consider all the energy, thought, and attitude that went into the construction.