A major retrospective of work by Enrique Grau (1920–2004) was presented in 1983 in Bogotá. The exhibition was spread out over three different venues: works that were produced between 1938 and 1969 were shown at the Fondo Cultural Cafetero; works produced from 1971 to 1983 were shown at the Colombian-American Center; and graphic works produced between 1941 and 1981 were shown at the Galería Belarca. Germán Rubiano (b. 1938) was the curator and director of research for the project; he wrote the catalogue introduction, which is one of the most complete documents ever produced on the work of Enrique Grau.
The historian and art critic Germán Rubiano splits Grau’s career into six periods. He begins with the period spanning 1938 to 1941, when Grau took part in the Primer Salón Nacional [First National Salon] in 1940. Then came Grau’s visit to New York and his Expressionist period, from 1941 to 1950. During the next five years until 1955, his work became more relaxed and he found his characteristic style. He abandoned this style in a radical move when he transitioned to geometrical work and began experimenting with abstraction, from 1955 to 1960. Toward the end of that period, from 1959 to 1961, he returned to a naturalistic style and spent a great deal of time exploring the human figure. He consolidated that exploration during the final period, from 1962 through 1983, when he attained international success and acclaim as one of the most important modern artists in Colombia.
Each chapter includes Rubiano’s theoretical descriptions, reproductions of the works in question, and a selection of reviews of Grau’s work. The essay therefore offers a number of different points of view, which in turn help the reader to develop a personal opinion about Grau and his place in Latin American art. In the “Preface,” for example, Rubiano points to what he sees as direct links between Grau and the Brazilian artist Emiliano Di Cavalcanti (1897–1976), and between Grau and the Cuban artist René Portocarrero (1912–1985). This sort of comparison greatly contributes to discussion and debate on the relationships between national and regional examples of Latin American art.