In this article, ultraconservative Colombian journalist José Mejía y Mejía defends the work of Colombian painter Débora Arango Pérez (1907–2005), while accurately detecting the changes taking place in art from the region as it evolved, in his view, from an aesthetic based on “reproduction” to one based on “interpretation.”
Arango was invited to show her work in Bogotá by Minister of Education Jorge Eliécer Gaitán (1903–1948). The watercolors of female nudes she had exhibited the year before, at the Club Unión of Medellín, caused quite a scandal. The show led to confrontations between the liberal press, which defended the artist, and the conservative press, which opposed her work. From then on, every public exhibition of work by this painter from the Antioquia region caused similar polarization, which ultimately would lead Arango to withdraw from the public scene.
José Mejía y Mejía was a politician and journalist who took great interest in the students of Pedro Nel Gómez (1899–1984) pursuant to their first exhibition in 1937. From then on, Mejía y Mejía wrote startlingly lucid reports on incidents in the visual arts that took place in the Antioquia region. He was responsible for naming the two conflicting groups active in the arts at that time, the “eladistas”—supporters of painter Eladio Vélez (1897–1969)—and the “pedronelistas”—supporters of Nel Gómez and his ideas.