As the title of this article by the poet, critic, translator, and essayist Jorge Gaitán Durán (1925-1962) indicates, this text was written on the occasion of an exhibition of the work of artist Cecilia Porras (1920-1971). While the text does not provide details about the event, it could well be the group show Salón de Pintura Contemporánea (1955) held in the main gallery of the Museo Nacional of Bogotá (September 2, 1955) or her solo exhibition held in July 1955 at El Callejón gallery in Bogotá. That second show, which was sponsored by the Dirección de Educación del Bolívar, featured twenty-four oil paintings and twenty drawings by Porras. The magazine Mito (published from 1955 to 1962) was crucial to the Bogotá intellectual and cultural scene of the fifties; its announcements of events, and the works of criticism and cultural analysis published on its pages, were a point of reference for those involved in arts and letters throughout the continent. This article by Gaitán Durán was an announcement publicizing the artist and one of her shows. Given the authority of the magazine and of the critic, the high praise he showers on Parras (“the greatest revelation in Colombian painting”) would most certainly have been an effective form of advertisement.
When this article was published, a group of young artists that attempted to produce a “new and authentic” type of art was beginning to take part in the debate on “what Colombian national art should be.” Indeed, a struggle over representation was underway insofar as emerging tendencies in keeping with international trends contrasted with critics and viewers mostly resistant to change in a highly Catholic and traditionalist society like Colombia. It is in this context that Gaitán Durán places emphasis on Porras and her generation’s aspiration to “the universal,” a notion that, at the time, was understood to be tied to the European avant-gardes of the post-war period. For the new generations of intellectuals and artists, being in tune with current European movements was a necessary step in the consolidation of a Colombian art unbridled by local referents, figuration, or the traditional landscapes that predominated at the time.