This text outlines the ideas of Colombian artist Gonzalo Ariza (1912–1995) on a number of topics: Latin American art and its power relationships with the rest of the world, and the way art was produced and taught in Colombia in the fifties, a decade that witnessed the consolidation of various strains of abstraction in the country. The text also attests to Ariza’s interest in encouraging greater awareness of Eastern art and architecture as points of reference. Ariza had come into contact with Eastern art while studying in Japan from 1936 to 1938 as the result of a grant from the Colombian government.
“Problemas del arte en Latinoamérica” [see 1061697], the article to which Ariza refers in this text, was written by Marta Traba (1923–1983), an Argentine art critic who lived in Colombia. It had been previously published shortly before in the cultural journal Mito. Whereas Traba believes that Latin American artists must eschew nationalism in their work and be open to foreign influences that enable them to interpret “the reality of the Americas,” Ariza believes that Americanism was blossoming within the framework of the cultural internationalization that took place in the twentieth century. In the end, however, both the critic and the artist supported the emergence of a Latin American art opened to foreign influences and current artistic movements. The difference lies in that Traba considered the European avant-garde the point of reference, whereas Ariza looked to autonomous Asian art largely devoid of foreign influences. Two days after the publication of this text, a harsh rebuttal was published [see 1129442].
Ariza was the first Colombian painter of his generation to study in a country other than Spain, France, or Mexico, the classic destinations for Colombian artists interested in furthering their knowledge. After studying printmaking at Koto Kogei Gakko in Tokyo and taking private classes in watercolor at the Tsuguharu Foujita studio, Ariza returned to Colombia where he exhibited landscapes in a number of exhibitions and salons. By the time he wrote this article, Ariza had received major awards, such as second prize at the third Salón de Artistas Colombianos (1941) and first diploma of honor at the seventh Salón (1945). Due to differences with art critics, Ariza’s work was not exhibited in Colombia from 1963 to 1973.