In 1981, Venezuelan painter Mateo Manaure (b. 1926) organized the exhibition Mirar a América [Look to America] at the Galería Cuatro Muros (Caracas). With this show, Manaure marked his return to figurative art, and above all, his desire to create work connected to the cultures of the continent. The interview, conducted by journalist Esteban Yepes, highlights the technical challenges that arose from his return to figuration and his inspiration (Pre-Columbian work), as well as his motivation: an interest in the sociocultural reality of Venezuela and America. He had already expressed this interest in the late 1960s, through his series Suelos de Mi Tierra [The Grounds of My Land], in which his handling of form and color represented his distancing himself from geometric abstraction. Far from denying the contributions of abstraction, Manaure affords it great value from a historical perspective, [which one may perceive as] an apologist’s argument for the contemporary need to examine the continent. The artist’s commitment is reflected in the text; offering the painter’s impressions on the national scene, as well as his contribution through his weekly political column. On this point, it manifests two concerns that had been developing since the previous decade within the Venezuelan art scene: the search for identity and art activism within the cultural or political spheres. The interview offers details on the structure of the exhibition; in this sense, it is intriguing that the space chosen by Manaure carries the name “Cuatro Muros” [Four Walls], alluding to the Galería Cuatro Muros—founded upon his return from Paris (1952) and which housed the first abstract art in Venezuela.
With respect to Manaure’s work, see the ICAA digital archive: by Víctor Guédez, “La creación estético-visual en Mateo Manaure” [The Aesthetic-Visual Creations of Mateo Manaure] (1155531); the texts by Roberto Guevara, “Manaure y la inmensa noche” [Manaure and the Great Night] (1156411) and “Manaure: Columnas en tierras movedizas” [Manaure: Columns in Shifting Lands] (1155301); and “Manaure y las Cuvisiones” [Manaure and the Cuvisiones](1156459); the essay by Perán Erminy, “Las imágenes poéticas de Manaure” [The Poetic Images of Manaure] (1156523); by Alfredo Boulton, “Mateo Manaure en el Museo de Bellas Artes” [Mateo Manaure at the Museo de Bellas Artes](1157497); by Gastón Diehl, “Mateo Manaure” (1156491); the article by Teresa Alvarenga, “Mi obra de hoy: Mateo Manaure llega a los 50 años” [My Work Today: Mateo Manaure Turns 50] (1156427); the text by Pedro Lhaya, “Mateo Manaure o la autenticidad pictórica americana” [Mateo Manaure or American Pictorial Authenticity] (1156443); and by Manaure himself, “La Escuela de artes plásticas de frente y de perfil” [The School of the Arts Straight on and in Profile] (813569)].