Maximiliano Grillo (1868–1949)—more commonly known as Max Grillo—was not only a poet, but also an art critic who contributed regularly to a number of publications in his native Colombia. In this text, he comments on works by Rómulo Rozo (1899–1964) that address the pre-Columbian world, pieces such as Tequendama and Bochica, dios todopoderoso de los Chibchas [Bochica, All-Powerful God of the Chibchas] (both from 1927). Some critics consider Rozo the greatest advocate of Indianism. Indeed, the title of one of his sculptures—Bachué—became the name of a literary and art movement that emerged in the 1930s, and as such came to have special meaning for Colombian culture. The Bachué group supported, among other things, a broad nationalism that would recognize the cultural contributions of the country’s past, not only of Europe. As such, it entailed the discovery of indigenous culture.
Rozo made the sculptures discussed here on the basis of what he had seen at the Musée Ethnographique du Trocadero (Paris), rather than on pre-Columbian works. This is significant insofar as it indicates how Indianism found its own content in Colombian art. Indeed, Rozo’s scant knowledge of indigenous cultures was due to the paucity of archeological research in Colombia at that time.
Rozo’s stance on the representation of nature is striking. In direct opposition to dominant academic tendencies, he defends the artist’s imagination. In Rozo’s view, what was imagined—not necessarily what was seen—determined what could be represented.