This text by Colombian poet, educator, and art critic Darío Ruiz Gómez (b. 1936) discusses the work by the three artists mentioned in Testimonios—Umberto Giangrandi (b. 1942), Carlos Granada (b. 1933), and Fabio Rodríguez (b. 1950)—all of whom were members of the Taller 4 Rojo. It also addresses their ethical approach to their work.
Founded in 1971, Taller 4 Rojo brought together individuals interested in producing testimonial art that reformulated the usual aims of artistic production. The group’s members—Umberto Giangrandi, Carlos Granada, Nirma Zárate (1936–99), Diego Arango (b. 1942), Jorge Mora, and, later, Fabio Rodríguez—were in contact with trade unions. They formed the Taller Escuela deArtes Gráficas 4 Rojo not only to make art but also to work with other forms of expression (publications, film, and educational materials) geared to different sectors of workers’ movements. The group’s work in the graphic arts was key to Colombian art not only because it raised awareness and furthered mastery of graphic media, but also because it demonstrated the possibilities of the graphic arts as communication media in a milieu steeped in painting and sculpture.
Ruiz’s text places emphasis on the ethical issues that the members of the group deemed vital to art and its making. Work that attested to the situation facing the country and Latin America as a whole questioned all forms of cultural colonialism and individualism. The group’s work was not, then, geared to chronicling daily life but, rather, to evidencing how the artist should embrace his function in relation to society and reality. As a result, issues like violence, repression, and opposition to imperialist practices were recurrent in the production of artists for whom the notion of “the political” did not lie in ingenuous allegories, but in taking an ethical stance on the problems of the day.