In this article, Ratto-Ciarlo—a Peruvian journalist and writer who lives in Venezuela—discusses the conversations he has had with Paul Keeler, the director of Signals gallery in London. Keeler, an English intellectual, compares the art produced in the United States, Europe, and Latin America. His bold assessment of Europe’s decorative trend and the prevailing literary-provincial approach in the Unites States appears to have pleased the interviewer, who at the time was the editor of the newspaper El Nacional’s art page. It must also have interested Alejandro Otero, an artist who has been deeply affected by the sense of isolation (and criticism of the apparently anachronistic nature of his work) fostered by these international art centers.
Keeler claims that, as distinct from Europe and North America, in particular, art from countries like Brazil and Venezuela reflects a better intellectual grasp of the “revolutionary” changes underway at the time. Should that statement be correct, it echoes a similar interpretation to be found in Paris and among the radical circle influenced by Jean Clay and Robho (1967), a magazine that published articles about artists who represented “revolutionary” movements and created works that blur traditional barriers between genres and encourage viewer participation. It is interesting to note that interpretations of that nature must have had an impact in Venezuela, where the left-wing milieu associated Geometric Abstraction with the military dictatorship of Marcos Pérez Jiménez (1952–58) and Kinetic art with democratic regimes that were gaining the upper hand in the struggle against the Marxist armed insurgency in the country at the time. Ratto-Ciarlo quotes the English gallery owner, who believes that Venezuelan artists have been able to use vibrations to capture the essence of their time. These explorations rely on technological inventions to break with traditional methods, reason enough for this London gallery to organize an exhibition of works by Cruz-Diez, Soto, and Otero.
The final portion of the article is focused on Otero’s work, in which Keeler underscores the artist’s command of technical aspects in his Coloritmos series, as well as his ability to overcome the challenge of technical limitations. To better understand the “variations” in the works of Soto, Cruz-Diez, and Otero he reflects on how they have been influenced by changing conditions in Caracas. Were both the interviewer and the interviewee aware that these artists (especially Soto) objected to any interpretation that sought to place their work in a Venezuelan context? Despite the speculation involved in that classification, the author presents statements made by the English gallery owner that are bound to please his guests, such as: though they are artists from an “underdeveloped” country, at an artistic level they have transcended the hackneyed ideas produced by far more advanced countries.