This essay by Lucas Ospina (b. 1971) serves an important role as a parameter of comprehension for the critical theory and structure of the writing used by the Colombian writer in his critical and curatorial texts. In this way, the document unfolds as a kind of declaration about art criticism as a conscious translation practice. The criticism must be at the service of the work, instead of arguing judgments of unique value in order to establish the criticism as for or against. This position establishes criticism as a space for dialogue and an opportunity to comment on the art, understood as an institutional practice. It asserts that the critical function is performed as an autonomous practice. While it is formed through construction of texts and autonomous works such as images, neither one is sufficient without the other. All this posits the descriptive exercise performed by criticism as a unique vehicle for setting up the relationships and the dialogue as well as the interpretation that result from the practice of criticism.
The statements made by the Colombian artist and critic come from Ospina’s painstaking reading and reconnaissance of the language structures used in a text by Denis Diderot (1713–1784). In his essay, Diderot narrates the work Le grand prêtre Corésus se sacrifie pour sauver Callirhoé (1765) by the painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732–1806), as if it were a dream. The piece takes shape in Diderot’s essay as a narrative reality, close to any reader, removed from the exclusive sphere of specialized art, revealing the work as an imaginary construction of codes common to all of us. This is where the description indicates points of departure for the possible interpretations; this is how criticism is established as neutral and useful, not explicitly determining final, canonical readings. This role is also granted by Ospina to criticism as a factor in making art more accessible to the public. The criticism may also point out shortcomings, not as defects,but rather as elements opening the way to dialogues between the viewer, the artist, and the work.