Friday, May 4, 2012

Debora Arango's Harsh Vision

'Students' Strike' apparently refers to 1950s protests by university students, some of which were repressed murderously by the dictatorship of Gustavo Rojas Pinilla. 

'The Dance.'
I first thot that someone must have been feeling sarcastic when they named the exhibition of paintings by Debora Arango (1907-2005) now in the Museo Nacional 'Sociales', as tho she had chronicled her epoc's social life. But perhaps the title refers to the dramatic social issues which Arango painted so starkly and unflinchingly.
'The Republic.' What are those beasts tearing at the republic?
Arango's long life spanned many eras for Colombia: Born soon after the end of the Thousand Days War, she lived thru the Great Depression, the rise of populist Jorge Eliecer Gaitan, La Violencia, the dictatorship of Gustavo Rojas Pinilla and guerrilla narco violence which followed. 

'The White Slave Trade.' Paintings like this
one including graphic nudity made
Arango controversial. 
But it was evidently La Violencia and the Rojas Pinillas' dictatorship, as well as chronic problems such as poverty, racism, exploitation of workers and the oppression of women, which most interested her. Rojas Pinilla built lots of public works, pacified the nation, introduced television and gave women the vote - but also massacred protesters and shut down the newspapers. I've never understood why it is that today some people idealize the man as a sort of left-wing nationalist hero. Arango, I'm certain, didn't share that view.

Controversially, Arango was the first Colombian woman to paint nudes. Her portrayals of politicians as animals also won her few friends amongst the powerful. 

Surprisingly, Arango went to study in Francisco Franco's Spain during the 1950s. Unsurprisingly, Franco ordered her paintings removed from display.

Arango donated all of her work to the Museum of Modern Art in Medellin. 

'The poor go to lunch.' 

'Plebiscite.' This one perhaps refers to a vote arranged by dictator Rojas Pinilla to try to legitimize his rule. 

'Race in the street.' 

A detail of 'Rojas Pinilla.'

'La Violencia.' Are these men or beasts?
A video in the museum shows scenes from Colombian history. 
'Silent Madonna.'

I'm not sure what this painting's title, 'Terciadores', means. 

'The Farewell'
'The Kidnapping.'

'The Tunnel.'
Shantytown residents, called 'Tugurianos.'

'The morning.'
'June 13.'A skeleton and a soldier drag away the corpses of frogs. Rojas Pinilla siezed power in a bloodless coup on June 13, 1953.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours


mauricio forero l said...

You see Mike, I think Arango is more complex as an artist. Do in my opinion to political, her work is less concern with stile and more in touch with experimenting and looking for new alternatives, which is what Botero never got. Are you familiar with Doris Salcedo?? Do you know the work of the Argentinian painter Guillermo Kuitca, if so what do you think of their work.


M. Forero.

Miguel said...

I'm sure you're right Mauricio. My appreciation of art is very superficial.

I've heard of Doris Salcedo, but don't know anything about her, and never heard of Kuitca.


mauricio forero l said...

I know you are very busy, but when you can take a look at their work. Also and bearing in mind your interest in the life of big cities, I want you to take a loo at the work of the California artist MARK BRADFORD. Let me tell you Mike his work is outstanding.


Miguel said...

Hi Mauricio,

Thanks. I look at his work.