This article written by Viennese art critic and historian Walter Engel (1908–2005) on the occasion of the exhibition of paintings by German-born artist Guillermo Wiedemann (1905–1969) at Galerías de Arte (Bogotá) voices concerns shared by many critics about this phase of Widemann’s production. Significantly, Engel, like Widemann, arrived in Colombia as an exile of the unrest in Europe after the annexation of Austria, though Wiedemann arrived in 1939, and Engel in 1938.
In Engel’s view, Wiedemann’s foreignness is central to his emotional response to the exuberance of the Colombian tropical landscape he encountered during his travels on the Magdalena River and the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. The value of his work is seen in either the depiction of the exotic motifs of those regions and their inhabitants or in the focus on color and constructive elements. It is widely believed that owing to his experience in Colombia, Wiedemann was able to explore an authentic personal style borne of an intense connection to the motifs that inspired him. In this article, Engel also discusses Wiedemann’s approach to painting, which although developed in Colombia, reflects knowledge of avant-garde European tendencies, such as French Impressionism and German Expressionism. Therefore, Wiedemann’s vision of the Colombian landscape enables a hybridization of cultural experiences. Observations of this sort are characteristic of the consolidation of modern criticism taking place at the time.