This exceptional and polemic book by Colombian artist Clemencia Lucena (1945–1983) was the only one published while she was alive. It addresses the relationship between artist, culture, and politics in Colombia. Her work in criticism and in art evidences her role as an artist-activist whose radical ideology was based on political struggle. Starting in 1971, she was a member of the leftwing political party Movimiento Obrero Revolucionario Independiente that brought together Marxist-Leninist and Maoist ideology in the anti-imperialist struggle. The party’s platform advocates agrarian reform on the basis of a workers’ party.
Anotaciones políticas sobre la pintura colombiana (1975) unleashed a debate with historian and art critic Álvaro Medina (b. 1942). In response to Lucena’s book, Medina published a long article entitled “Mao en la pintura colombiana (II)” in Estravagario: Revista cultural de El Pueblo put out by the newspaper El Pueblo (Cali, January 25, 1976). In it, Medina accuses Lucena of distorting local art to support arbitrary positions without due justification in an overly simple analysis based on “wrath and petty opposition.” Lucena provides a detailed response to Medina in the article “El revisionismo en la crítica y la pintura colombianas,” published in the same newspaper on May 9, 1976, where she attacks Medina for what she sees as misrepresenting the book’s premises and her ideas on art. Essential to this polemic is the fact that Medina was a member of the PCC (Partido Comunista Colombiano) at the time. After this exchange of articles, Medina responded to Lucena’s criticism in the introduction to the book “Procesos del arte en Colombia” (see “Introducción: Para entrar en combate”, 1082796).
Outstanding in the compilation Anotaciones políticas sobre la pintura colombiana is the article “Formas ‘puras’ y formas políticas en el salón XXII” , a critical overview of the works exhibited at the XXII Salón de Artistas Nacionales (1971) and one of the first articles by Lucena to appear in the Colombian press (Lecturas Dominicales, or Sunday Readings, in El Tiempo newspaper, December 5, 1971).
Clemencia Lucena died at the age of thirty-seven. Her work has been featured in solo and group shows, including the Exposición Panamericana de Artes Gráficas in Cali (1970) and the 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975 and 1976 editions of the Salón de Artistas Nacionales. In conjunction with her husband, writer Luis Fernando Lucena, she founded Bandera Roja publishing house which published this book as well as the posthumous work entitled “La revolución, el arte, la mujer” (1984).