This text by Venezuelan writer Elizabeth Schön (1921–2007) was part of the catalogue for the exhibition Elsa Gramcko: Una alquimista de nuestro tiempo. Muestra Antológica 1957–1978, presented at the GAN (Galería de Arte Nacional, 1997). It was the first great retrospective of the work of the Venezuelan artist. This essay is of special importance because its author was a close friend of the family of Elsa Gramcko (1925–94), which included her sister Ida. Schön intertwines her descriptions and analysis of the works with memories and experiences that she shared with both. She describes Elsa as an “alchemist” because of the manner in which she worked with different materials, achieving, in her judgment, a “transformation” of the materials. She goes beyond artistic achievements, focusing on more than the artist, touching also on the human being. The distinctive features of the landscape of Puerto Cabello (Venezuela) where Gramcko was born and lived for a large part of her life notably influenced the development of her character. She was an artist in search of a personal manner of expression for her thoughts and ideas. In Schön’s opinion, her family and friends, her social relationships in general, and especially poetry and literature, were important to Gramcko’s personality. A recognized poet, Schön appeals in her text to diverse literary devices to describe the works. An interesting data point within the text is the assertion that the famous debate regarding abstraction and figurative art, in which Alejandro Otero and Miguel Otero Silva faced off, began at the house of Elsa Gramcko in 1957.
For access to other critical essays and interviews with Elsa Gramcko, see in the ICAA digital archive the text by Juan Carlos López Quintero for the exhibition catalogue for Elsa Gramcko: Una alquimista de nuestro tiempo. Muestra Antológica 1957–1978 (1152657); the 1959 essay by José Gómez Sicre “Elsa Gramcko of Venezuela” (1222685); the text by Oswaldo Trejo (1966) “Elsa Gramcko” (1153620); the essay by Alberto Anzola that appeared in 1968 “Elsa Gramcko y sus cuadros mágicos” (1153668); the essay by Roberto Guevara, published in El Nacional in 1969, “Abstractos inéditos de Elsa Gramcko” (1163749); the essay by Juan Calzadilla (1969) “Elsa Gramcko: la atracción de las texturas” (1153589); two texts by Clara Diament Sujo, “Elsa Gramcko” (1153604) and “Entrevista con Elsa Gramcko” (1976) (1152673); and finally, the essay from 1979 written by Teresa Alvarenga “Elsa Gramcko por ahora el silencio” (1153652).