December 4 – January 29 2015
This year, within the framework of the Masters exhibition with which we end the gallery’s activities, we want to pay tribute to Ana Mercedes Hoyos, who left us in September of this year. Ana Mercedes was a dear friend and one of the pillars of the gallery’s activities since its foundation. With this sample of selected artworks, we want to acknowledge the different stages of her successful career as an artist, in her journey to consolidate herself as one of the most important painters of today’s fine arts scene in Colombia and Latin America. Ana Mercedes Hoyos was one of the most important representatives of Colombian art, whose work ranged from abstractionism to realism, and from the figurative to the geometrical art. Her consistent creative work allowed her to receive public recognition at a national and international level.
Ana Mercedes Hoyos was born in Bogotá in 1942. She began her journey through the world of art from an early age when her parents took her traveling around Europe, and by visiting the most important museums in the world, she became familiar with the great artworks of art history.
Her foray as an artist took place in the sixties. While been a student of Universidad de los Andes and the disciple of the critic and scholar Marta Traba, she was profoundly influenced by the Pop Art movement that absorbed the attention of artists of the time. At this stage she produced a series of paintings of billboards, which reaffirm her penchant for the themes of commercial consumerism and color planimetry as present in Pop Art.
In her subsequent paintings made in the late sixties, she makes references to architecture, an interest inherited from her father. Her concerns with the geometric and the constructive forms prevailed in the series Ventanas (Windows). In it, the management of color can be seen in the approach to the shadows and the semi-darkness, through which she explores space. This interest would then take her, during the seventies, to approach the opening space of the window. She focused on the printed space beyond the geometry to reduce the architectural reference on the canvasses itself; only represent the sky, or even better, the framing of the firmament which was practically white, although it was possible to identify some bluish tones, with some effort. This body of work that the artist called Atmósferas (Atmospheres) constitutes her minimalist stage. With it she won the First Prize in the National Artists Salon of 1978.
Gradually, Hoyos would move away from the inflexibility of modern movements to return to figurative painting and the use of representation. The first paintings she made after Atmósferas are works in which the geometry play a major role and where the curved line expresses itself. In the early eighties, Ana Mercedes turns her sights to the soil, giving importance to the line of the horizon. The series known as Paisajes (Landscapes) involves the emergence of color.
By the mid-eighties, her approach to the idea of the still life after Ventanas, Atmósferas and Paisajes is inspired by major artists of art history such as Caravaggio, Zurbarán, Van Gogh, Jawlensky and Lichtenstein. This body of work includes Girasoles (Sunflowers), with which she pays homage to Van Gogh, el Primer Bodegón en la Historia del Arte (the First Still Life in Art History), where she pays homage to Caravaggio, and el Gran Desconocido (the Great Unknown), which honors Jawlensky.
Subsequently, there is a conceptual shift which happens by accident during a family trip to Cartagena. Her first encounter with which would later become the core of her work took place at the tourist beaches and the Bazurto market; The Palangana, the metal and circular basin, full of fruit, which are arranged in balance. According to the artist, the organization of the container matched the research on constructivism and cubism that she was conducting during her review of the history of art. Ever since that moment, a strong relationship would grow between Ana Mercedes Hoyos and the community of San Basilio de Palenque.
Thus, as of 1986 and supported by photographic images she took, the stage of the Bodegones de Palenque (Still Lifes of Palenque) began, where the interpretation of the containers of fruit or basins would become the central focus of her work. In them, the incidence and careful arrangement of light, the fragmented analytical compositions where geometry becomes essential, and other subtle and suggestive arrangements of color, are able to imprint, on each fruit basin, on her bazurtos or on the celebrations, an indisputable ingredient of existence.
These still lifes are just the beginning of the investigation conducted by Ana Mercedes Hoyos, where her works will explore the customs of the palenqueros such as boxing, community games from which the Vara de Premio is derived, as well as the procession parades and celebrations where the colored dresses of women stand out.
Later, Ana Mercedes fixed her attention on the outfits that the young girls wear during the processions and celebrations, especially the bows. These are presented as an illustration of a universe in which, the returning to the synthesis of geometry and color, are distinctive cultural elements that symbolize freedom, friendship and solidarity gathered with the union of the two bows. In the words of the artist «the bows are notorious in Palenque not only for their aesthetic contribution to the design of the dresses, which are true works of popular art … but because, somehow, their size is a gesture of status, and also to me, they are a symbol not only of the freedom that the palenqueros obtained thanks to their value, but also of my bond to them […]. »
Ana Mercedes Hoyos’ paintings belong to a Latin American collective imagination and reveal an attitude and approach to the race and black culture that is completely different. Her works are a thoughtful look and a testimony of life of these communities, which were initially included in the history of Colombian Art by Guillermo Wiedemann and found a voice in the different generations of Colombian artists.