This document articulates a straightforward, specific, and mocking criticism of contemporary art and its reception by a nonexpert audience. With a sense of humor, it shows the mechanisms by which art exhibitions become spectacles, political events, and spaces for artists, critics, and curators to gain legitimacy. In this text, Lucas Ospina (b. 1971) generates a distance between the reader, and the art show as an event, privileging an individual reading of works as essential to the understanding, description, and interpretation of each piece beyond expectations about viewing an art show. The text demonstrates Ospina’s criticism of the public relations underlying Colombian art, and the lack of democratically inclined spaces in the art world. As an artist, Ospina is concerned with the general public’s lack of education on how to read images. Ospina asserts that critics are often overly simplistic in addressing certain topics. He claims that due to critics’ failure to emphasize the works themselves, the crucial role of those works in art events is obscured by so much show business.
Ospina concisely points out a number of problems surrounding the reception of contemporary art, exaggerating situations to which viewers are subjected at an exhibition. He mocks the many critics who assert that exhibitions are “produced by and for artists,” mystifying art as an exclusive and elitist arena. The author comically envisions the protagonists of art shows (artists, critics, and viewers) as rivals, naïve characters, or possible menaces to the experience of actually seeing the works. For Ospina, the experience of looking at the work of art is primordial, as are description and interpretation of the work through dialogue. In his view, it is those experiences that make works of art public and take them beyond the limited confines of the art world.
Lucas Ospina is a visual artist with a degree from the Universidad de los Andes (1995). He did postgraduate studies in sculpture at Temple University in Philadelphia (2003). In 1994, he was awarded first prize at the fourth Salón de Arte Joven. As a critic, he has contributed to the Bogotá newspaper El Espectador, and he is currently (2009) a professor at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá.