At times of collective crises, art ceases to be pleasant and turns offensive, horrendous, not very befitting as ornament in the traditional sense of the word. In these cases, the valid recourse of perturbing the eyes serves, thanks to the force of its contents, to alert the intellect. The new situation that results thus proves that without art—setting aside purely bodily aspects related to the adventure of being born, growing up, reproducing and dying—human life would be meaningless. And it is justthat, in the course of life, are not the activities of growing up and reproducing ones that are interspersed with disturbing incidents? Note that, in general, those incidences are linked to the struggle of preserving or extending territories already in possession. I am referring to private territories (sexuality, family, personal integrity, morals), but also to collective territories (the space occupied, society, the economy, politics). Depending on the results that areobtained, each incident may represent a triumph or a defeat that generates, one way or another, some sort of crisis.

 

Latin America is a continent in permanent crisis. The bonanza—luckily for them—that some of the provinces, and even some of the countries, have experienced has not been self-sustaining and harmonious, the reason why they

have ended up rife with political conflicts and enormous social inequalities. The result has been a long history of functionally imperfect democracies, unlimited corruption, oppression, resentments, declared and undeclared wars, dictatorships—which in the end are not conducive to anything except satisfying the ego of the strongman of the moment and of his court of cronies.

 

What I attempt to suggest here is a yardstick that would serve to measure the spirit of the Gomezbarros paintings and installations that are now being exhibited, so different from the yardstick that we would need and apply with complete confidence to other types of works. “Art must not be the result of an idea, but rather a generator of ideas”, wrote the artist on the Carbono 14 catalog of the 2006 exhibition held at La Cometa Gallery of Bogotá. Thus it must be, he continued to reflect, “although, deep down” art always may e tail an idea. These are words that invigorate the task of identifying the content found in his works, allowing us to reflect freely when we confront them.What, then, are they telling us? Why do they say it? How do they say it?

 

Alvaro Medina

 

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