Here is an interview of Álvaro Barrios (b. 1945) done for the media by Eduardo Serrano (b. 1939), the curator of his first retrospective exhibition at the Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá. It is natural that the thoughts expressed in such an interview and reflected in this document are important for the interpretation and reading of the artist’s work. In the interview, Barrios analyzes his searches, influences, and intuitions based on the first occasion on which he was seeing his own work gathered and organized in different ways. This gave him a different perspective on his own approach (now filtered through his forty-one years of life), which was already fairly widespread, diverse, and influential in its milieu. Perhaps this is why the artist brushed aside curatorial questions about his work, preferring to talk about aspects of his life (above all, his childhood). Barrios therefore declined to provide his most basic ideas about the media of expression in which he showed clear mastery, in particular, his great capacity to transform the various art trends prevailing at the time in an original way.
This is one of the first documents in which the artist clarifies his calling as an “occultist,” based on the way that vision influenced his imagination, along with his childhood absorption of sacred history, the world of comic strips, trading cards, movies and—throughout his formative period—art history. Barrios went on in this text to sum up his situation clearly: in spite of his interest in the universal occurrence of the image, he identifies himself primarily as a Colombian artist. In this way, he emphasizes that his work is a unique hybrid expressed from a specific place, through a construction of his own life.