In this interview conducted by María Cristina Sanhueza with critic and teacher J. R. Guillent Pérez, the latter attempts to defend the importance of the Los Disidentes group (of which he was a member, along with the movement of geometric abstraction) within Venezuelan art. His intervention began with the assertions painter Oswaldo Vigas (b. 1926) made to journalist Paco Benmaman (April 14, 1977 on Radio Caracas Televisión). Vigas pointedly questioned the influence of Los Disidentes, abstract art, Kinetic art, and the arts integration project at the Ciudad Universitaria of Caracas [see the article by Paco Benmaman, “Oswaldo Vigas explosivo” [Explosive Oswaldo Vigas] (El Universal, Caracas, April 17, 1977) in the ICAA digital archive 1153245].
Guillent Pérez had participated in Los Disidentes, a group of young Venezuelan artists studying and living in Paris who (in 1950 and through an eponymous magazine) vehemently promoted geometric abstraction. According to its members, they were dedicated to renewing national art. In 1965, Guillent Pérez had participated in a debate with Marta Traba; a debate that also involved Alejandro Otero, Ludovico Silva, and other Venezuelan intellectuals. At the time, the role played by movements that spurred modernity in Latin America was being questioned: criticism was centered on the role that internationalism played in the aesthetic production of the continent, which, in the opinion of many, called into question their cultural identity. On this occasion, as in 1965, Guillent Pérez defended “art with identity,” although its referents were not limited to local and folkloric archetypes. In this sense, the critic emphasizes the notion of “identity” exercised by abstract painters, which appealed to a universality derived from [the belief that] Latin America was part of the Western world. In the judgment of Guillent Pérez, the scarce awareness of this belonging was an obstacle to the articulation of a broader identity with the potential to maintain a dialogue with “the other.” According to this approach, the idea of “identity” acquires an individual and ontological character, unquestionable to the point of displacing the local dimension.