For researchers concerned with aesthetic ideas and the history of art criticism, this document by Rogelio Echavarría (b. 1924), written in 1949, offers an overview of the state of the debate in Colombia on art from the region. The issue of the participation of each country in a broader Latin American spirit was central to cultural processes after independence from Spain. In Colombia in the mid-20th century, there were a good many artists committed to a regional movement, while others pursued art that looked elsewhere for inspiration. Since this text includes proponents of both positions (Acuña and Grau, for example), it is a rich source that provides a variety of perspectives on the same topic.
It is striking that all the artists and critics reject the idea that Colombian painting is “weak and sad,” and share a sense of confidence in art from the first decades of the century that looked to the local environment. The only person cited in the article who agrees that Colombian art is “somewhat weak” is Casimiro Eiger, a critic born in Poland and trained in the European tradition. In general, the answers reveal an art scene committed to the local environment and steeped in consciousness of albeit incipient “Americanness” far from forming a school in its own right. The carefully argued article provides an in-depth and conceptually serious discussion of the question at hand, making plain the exchange of ideas between Colombian artists and critics that, at the time, accompanied the actual making of art.