March 7 – April 30, 2018

Álvaro Barrios – Starsky Brines – Luz Helena Caballero – Sebastián Camacho – Juan Francisco Casas – Adriana Ciudad – María José Chica – José Luis Cote – Maria Cristina Cortés – César Delgado – Manuel Esnoz – Francisco Fernández – Sebastián Fierro – Jansel Figueroa – Jaime Franco – Nicolás Galindo – Fernando García – Gonzalo García – Sair García – Nicolás Gómez – Pipo Hernández – Federico Herrero – Carlos Jacanamijoy – Aurora Lario – Carlos León – Verónica Lehner – Luis Luna – Armando Mariño – José Horacio Martínez – Catalina Mejía – Juan Mejía – Alberto Miani – Marco Mojica – Laura Mora – Ana Mosseri – Mariana Najmanovich – Vicky Neumann – Nadín Ospina – Boris Pérez – Mauro Piva – Antonio Puri – Giovanni Randazzo – Martha Rivero – Cristina Rodriguez – Miguel Ángel Rodríguez Silva – Maria Isabel Rueda – Pedro Ruiz – Carlos Salazar Arenas – Freda Sargent – Alejandra Seeber – Gabriel Silva – Lina Sinisterra – Ernesto Soto – Anthony Stark – Santiago Ydañez

At the beginning of the twentieth century, painting became the subject of intense discussions and censorship. However, it was boldly and audaciously able to lay the foundations of what would later become the avant-garde and contemporary art. Painting was even expected to die in the middle of the last century to make way for other, more dynamic, artistic languages.

Many believe painting is a “dead language” of which only vestiges remain and that it becomes part of a corpse devoured or consumed in the desert of incomprehension. Many mourned and still mourn it, while others defend it. Painting however, is not in the least interested in its mourning nor in its defense. Painting has survived and will continue to survive all of the attacks against it throughout history. In the 90s it was seen as a decadent extension of a modernity that ended all utopias. Forbidden painting was camouflaged and resurrected as proof of its fragility and unapologetic nakedness.
Painting then resurfaced, increasingly dynamic and vital, free of speculation and false expectations. Joseph Beuys decreed the death of painting in Dusseldorf and condemned it and poetry to ostracism by declaring, paraphrasing Adorno:
“Painting after Auschwitz is obscene.”

Painting is an act of resistance and persistence that came into being in the hypogea of Tierradentro, the caves of Altamira and Lascaux, the murals of Bonampak and the paintings of the Chinese and the Ancient Egyptian Empire; the ancestral paintings of Constantinople, Rome, Pompeii and India, the drawings of the Navajos and the painted sculptures of the Olmecs, the monoliths of San Agustín, the Calima, the Incas and the Mayans, among many other wonderful cultures that we can barely recognize today. Its immortality is part of man and his essence.

Monks during the Middle Ages illuminated the exquisite manuscripts of the Bible and the Books of Hours, while others have painted on walls and streets to draw our attention with their powerful messages; they have successfully escaped death. Women and men have been able to live in the world offered through and by painting.

Painting is… immortal for its capacity of reinvention and constant transformation. In every generation of male and female artists, painting has been able to express the immeasurable dimension of the human spirit. Nothing can stop it, because painting is eternal. It is always expanding in relation to other expressions of art and life. Painting has always been the shining beacon that guides the rebellious spirit of those who have achieved immortality.

In the 90s, and as a result of the end of the utopias that fell along with the Berlin Wall, painting seemed to have been banned and banished from Colombia’s local art scene. However, it was able to look for new possibilities in its past to conquer postmodernity, while still protecting its authenticity. Artists took on more critical position and painters, whose numbers dwindled every day, took the opportunity to lighten the burden by leaving style out of the equation and disregarding the figure of the plastic hero.

Painting, the agonizing and condemned goddess, was able to reincarnate in young talents that saw the new world with other eyes and joined in without ambiguity or prejudice. “The Computer Moves In”, the title of a Sigmar Polke´s painting from the 80s seemed to prophesy the end of the old disputes between abstract and figurative painting and gave way to a vertiginous and immaterial exchange, forgetting the weight of style and the inevitable figure of the hero; closer to personal memory in the face of power and sometimes lost in a maze of complaints for having lived as queen of the arts for so long. Agonizing and condemned, very soon we would see how it reincarnated in young talents that saw the new world with other eyes and joined in without ambiguity and prejudice. “The Computer Moves In”, is how Sigmar Polke titled a painting in the 80s that showed how the old disputes between abstract and figurative painting were diluted while giving way to a renewed language that was expanding in silence and that very few of us seemed to understand. The legacy of male and female painters through the millennia is what makes painting eternal.

Painting today is a difficult task; it requires discipline and passion, knowledge and dedication, wonder and fascination, criticism and irony. It is a different time for artists who speak through painting. We are unfamiliar with the expansive power of a force that is inexplicably linked to the lives of painters who come close to living forever. Looking at paintings is also difficult because it means going beyond appearances to find something else. Observing paintings requires time and dedication and the capacity to dissect interpret, reconstruct, destroy and surrender to the inexplicable, far away from the desire for novelty and superficial immediacy.

Max Ernst wrote at the beginning of the twentieth century that the difference between cooking a meal and painting is that the results of the former can be immediately qualified, while the results of the latter are unpredictable.

Today, painting is constantly expanding through multiple associations: video, graphics, infographics, publications, sculptures, installations and performance. Skeptical as part of his own destruction, or inflicting its own punishment, producing signs of rejection and denial as an anomaly, painting has reinvented itself as eternally immortal. With their views and attitudes towards life and work, painters today are no longer defined by their techniques or skills, but rather by their ability to make the invisible visible.

Jose Horacio Martinez
March 2018