When the Colombian artist Juan Camilo Uribe (1945–2005) created his work, he made use of religious images widely circulated around Colombia and daily objects related to the cultural/regional experience in his native city, Medellín. He incorporated such objects into ensembles or collages. Uribe’s work was characterized by humor, through which he proposed to bring together the sacred and the profane, as well as combining highbrow elements with popular ones. Based on its use of popular imagery, his work has been classified as kitsch or Pop, categories that need to be reviewed in the light of the intrinsic intentions of the work.
Among the few articles that discussed Uribe’s prize, the one by Luis Fernando Valencia conducts an analysis from a critical stance that questions the decontextualization of the religious images and the humor suggested by the piece. Thus, Valencia takes a strong, critical point of view, debunking the image, since he believes the work, Llamarada, takes no risks whatsoever. In this regard, he maintains that “Uribe’s entertaining images make no attempt whatsoever to indict the parish environment,” referring to the sociocultural life of Medellín.
The I Salón Regional de Artes Visuales of the northwestern region opened at the Biblioteca Pública Piloto in Medellín on May 14, 1976, with the participation of 200 artists. The jury that awarded the first prize to Uribe was made up of: Beatriz González (b. 1938), David Manzur (b. 1929), and Augusto Rendón (b. 1933).
In 1975, when Gloria Zea de Uribe assumed the direction of the Instituto Colombiano de Cultura (Colcultura), she led a series of reforms of the Salón Nacional. The reforms were a response to the crises besetting this national visual art event (promoted by the Colombian government). That year, the name of the event was changed from Salón Nacional de Artistas to Salón Nacional de Artes Visuales to include media such as photography and video. In 1976, the Salón was decentralized by establishing regional salons promoted by six Colombian cities, to achieve wider national coverage. The subject of this document is the first regional salon in one of the regions (Antioquia). The following year, the prizewinning works in each regional salon would participate in an event in the capital: the Salón Nacional de Artes Visuales in Bogotá. Therefore, starting in 1976, invitations would be issued every two years, as is still done to this day.
Luis Fernando Valencia, a master of visual arts and teacher of aesthetics and the philosophy of art, has worked as an artist and an art critic.