This article refers to the early career of the Colombian artist Omar Rayo (b. 1928) and the amazing number of exhibitions he had had by the time he was 23 years of age, by which time he was already known for his caricatures at a national level and his paintings at a local level. Rayo’s first period was known as maderismo [Wood-ism], which referred to his caricatures—drawings that imitated sticks and slivers of wood—of personalities such as León de Greiff (1895–1976), Gabriela Mistral [the poet Lucila Godoy Alcayaga] (1889–1957), Jorge Eliécer Gaitán (1898-1948), Pope Pius XII (1876–1958), and the artist himself. These caricatures represented the interest shown by caricaturists of that time—Franklin in particular—in geometric drawing.
Rayo’s second period, which the article calls bejuquismo [Liana-ism], consists of landscapes that evoke the work of the Surrealists, in which human figures are depicted as roots or lianas, which are known as “bejucos” in some parts of the country, hence the name. In his subsequent period, ultrabejuquismo [Ultra Liana-ism], Rayo’s figures are more sculptural and gain in volume.
This look at Rayo’s early career helps to explain how he developed what became the strictly geometric (though not necessarily optical) language that ultimately distinguished him and brought him international recognition. The Café “El Automático” mentioned above was one of the most important meeting places in Bogotá for artists, literary people, and journalists during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. This Café helped to launch some of the most significant cultural initiatives in Colombia, including magazines such as Mito [Myth], Índice Cultural [Cultural Index], and Espiral [Spiral]. It was a place where recent arrivals and those who were interested in culture could meet Colombian artists and writers, a space that was available for permanent and temporary art exhibitions.
This document omits certain details, especially the specific places and dates of Omar Rayo’s exhibitions in Venezuela. It nonetheless summarizes the early years of his career as few contemporary reviews did.