The promotion and dissemination of the works of our National Plastic Arts Awards for the democratisation of culture
The utopia of the possible, thesis that inspired our management as president-founder of PDVSA La Estancia, social and cultural arm of the Venezuelan oil industry (PDVSA), was mainly based on showing the aesthetics of our modernity in the world of the arts and making it accessible to all.
In Venezuela, the most brilliant artistic-creative minds of Latin America happily converged as far as modern art is concerned.
The multiplicity of our landscapes (Caribbean, Andean, Llaneros, Amazonian, urban), the variety of our population (indigenous, African, Spanish and Canarian); and, later, also the Arab immigration (post World War I), European (Post World War II), South American (years of the dictatorships of Argentina, Chile and Uruguay) and later, the Andean-Caribbean (Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia , Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Haiti), generated a mixture that had its expressions in all cultural manifestations; and, very particularly, in our plastic arts.
On the other hand, oil revenues allowed our universities to have a high level of education, to have access to the best equipment, laboratories, materials and libraries, and many Venezuelans could move abroad to carry out their specialisation studies.
Our cultural and landscape syncretism, together with the enriching experiences of study, travel, knowledge of other worlds and cultures, influenced the generation of an important group of artists, who have marked universal art.
In Paris, which from the Universal Exhibition of 1900, became the “city of light” for the development of the avant-garde, Venezuelan plastic artists coincided in the 1950s, who had moved to study, meet and exchange with artists from all over the world and try your luck in galleries and art spaces.
A very important role in that city was played by the gallery owner Denis René, who with the exhibition “Le Mouvement” brings together, for the first time, artists such as Jesús Soto, Alexander Calder, Yaacov Agam, Jean Tinguerly and Pol Bury, becoming the promoter of the kinetic art and geometric abstractionism, without which many renowned artists in the world would have been able to express their discourse; and, who, having identified the great quality of our (Venezuelan) artists in the art of the 20th century, opened his spaces and his gallery to them, and supported them in the dissemination of their works and positions.
Not in vain is the prestigious National Prize for Plastic Arts created in Venezuela, which is awarded every year at the beginning; and, later, biennial, emerged in parallel in 1940, with the Annual Official Exhibition of Venezuelan Art and definitively destined in 1947, more than to declare the result of a contest, to recognise the contributions of an artist throughout his life.
However, the trajectory of the creators expresses the characteristics of their country of origin, its customs, its landscapes, its people. For this reason, mainly, the public of their country has the right to know them and these, to transmit their creative spirit towards them. It is a reciprocal giving, which strengthens in both, the sense of identity.
Hence, the need to democratise, not only access to art for the people, but that of artists indiscriminately, without favouritism, ideological, aesthetic or style exclusions, and present them to an important group of recipients.
With the Culture Management of our institution, led in its first 5 years by the brilliant historian Luisa Díaz, with whom I had the great honor of working, we designed a scheme that would allow us; on the one hand, to support and present a multifaceted group of artists; and, on the other, to transmit content through the samples, which should be more than a form of entertainment, an opportunity to generate an educational encounter in the public.
As well as, based on the patrimonial and identity character of our artists, one of the exhibition programs that we prioritise and with greater meaning and success, was the organisation of exhibitions dedicated to the works of our creators who have received the important National Award for Plastic Arts of our country; but that, due to the daily speed, the passage of time or a tacit forgetfulness or omission, they ceased to be present throughout the years after their recognition, in the national halls, either due to the effect of fashion or pettiness typical of social groups, from which the artistic world is not exempt.
In this way, we had the satisfaction of being able to honor and recognised Masters in life; most of whom, unfortunately by now, have passed away. The joy and enthusiasm experienced by each one, both in the process of assembling their respective exhibitions, as well as their inauguration and subsequent visits, above all, due to the overwhelming presence of visitors of all ages and, for the most part, as young people, they were the elements that demanded of us; on the one hand, the extreme care of details; but, on the other, the most genuine expression of our own creativity. Everything, of course, hand in hand with the best curators and museum-graphers, specialised in the corresponding trends and even in the specific authors.
This is how in our rooms, we carried out the exhibitions of the following Venezuelan Awards, most of them internationally recognised:
Jesús Rafael Soto, Alejandro Otero, Omar Carreño, Mateo Manaure, Mercedes Pardo, Régulo Pérez, Luisa Richter, Saúl Huerta, Gabriel Bracho, Ramón Vásquez Brito, Alirio Oramas, Francisco Hung, Ender Cepeda, José Antonio Dávila, Manuel Quintana Castillo, Juan Calzadilla, Lía Bermúdez, Francisco Hung (El Chino).
The beautiful thing is that not only many of the honorees were, by then, alive; but, the rest, was represented by his relatives, who equally and enthusiastically accompanied us in the complete iteration of the respective productions. For this reason, each exhibition, although from our humble spaces, was a faithful reflection of the spirit of its creators and a balanced sample of their work, with no interest in highlighting any stage, but simply with the intention of conveying to the public a encounter with the Masters and identification with their proposals.
For each exhibition, we were able to publish a catalog and in most of them, make an explanatory video of the works, containing the ideas and statements of the artists, which were also disclosed on social networks, a novel instrument for most of the honorees and that brought them closer to the world of our young people.
We were able to show how our artists were always at the forefront of the creative act in the world, having, many of them even met among themselves to write Manifestos, Doctrines or Theses, which changed the perception of universal art, and generated through them a real social change. Such is the case of “Los Disidentes”, made up, among others, of Jesús Soto, Omar Carreño, Régulo Pérez, among others, who, contrary to the trend of the time, and we are talking about Paris, July 30, 1950, they considered abstraction and not only figurative or mural art, as a revolutionary expression and sociocultural change.
Many of the exhibitions were accompanied by the rehabilitation, construction or placement of the works of some of them in public spaces and the modernisation of their environments, such as their Led lighting and gardens. Such is the case of the Soto Sphere (also called Caracas Sphere or Solar Sphere), which after many years of total abandonment and destruction, we rehabilitated on different occasions (years), to make it today one of the icons of our capital city. Likewise, it happened with that of Carlos Cruz Diez (Physicromy in Double Face in Homage to Don Andrés Bello) and Abra Solar by Alejandro Otero, in Plaza Venezuela, where we also located, Pariata 57 by Omar Carreño. Likewise, Los Cerritos by Mercedes Pardo and Alejandro Otero, on the Francisco Fajardo Highway, or the Uracoa Mural, by Mateo Manaure on Libertador Avenue, among others.
The exhibitions of our National Awards were visited by many people, especially children and adolescents who were unaware of their works, and who were able to delve into the ideology of the artists, their thoughts, the reality and the historical moments of our country in which the works were created; and, above all, in the creative being that constituted each one of them, as an instrument of social transformation.
With the above, we were able to beat the sectarianism in the choice of the honorees, and, for our National Awards, we made a well-deserved tribute as a way to perpetuate their greatness in works to the public.
Art as a genuine expression of the human species is a psychic, social and aesthetic need, which constitutes an instrument for the formation of awareness of cultural identity in the population. Our exhibitions served as catalysts between our National Awards and the ideas of the public, who sought and found in each of them, an expression of their cultural roots.
The memory of the smiles of each one of our National Awards and the perplexed look of our visitors, are for us a food for the soul and spirit, which impel us to continue developing a serious work of research and action for social transformation and improving the quality of life for all.