The book Cuadernos de pintura (1982), by the visual artist Manuel Quintana Castillo (1928–2016), is a collection of essays on art theory and other aspects of art. In his book, the writer analyzes, criticizes and interprets aesthetic, conceptual, technical, formal and historical aspects of art. The essay includes a discussion on the history of cultures and the development of certain art movements and major figures in modern art history both in the Americas and in Europe. Here, we have a small sample of the intellectual contributions made by this artist, along with the art he created, starting in 1955. As such, it reflects some of the creative interests he was involved in defending at the time. In the text “América y el arte,” Quintana Castillo considers the historical dispute between the defense of an art that is specifically Latin American or accepting the Universality of art. Faced with this difference of opinion, the writer takes the position that the artist’s individual expression and exploration must be the springboard for transcendence. In his opinion, this objective can only be reached if the artists are sincere in their vocation, which calls for the highest level of awareness and commitment to one’s own anguish and obsessions. The artists must freely assume the risks involved in creative work, avoiding any other commitment. When the essay was written, in 1965, both New Figuration and Abstract Expressionism were alternatives that were gaining ground over “Abstract aesthetics,” which was considered the “official” art language at the time. As a matter of fact, these two trends seized the attention of the critics and the viewing public in Venezuela during the 1960s and 1970s. In turn, Quintana Castillo formulated his criticisms of both trends between the late 1970s and the early 1980s, regardless of the fact that until 1963, his own work was considered related to Abstract Expressionism.
[In addition, in the ICAA digital archive, see two other texts from chapter III of the book Cuadernos de pintura: “Reflexiones sobre el constructivismo” (1156254) and “Expresionismo y abstracción” (1156218)].