The artist Armando Villegas (b. 1928), who is also an agent and an art critic, studied at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes [National School of Fine Arts] in Lima and at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes in Bogotá. He first appeared in the Colombian art scene in 1953, and ever since then he has produced a body of abstract work that has earned him a place among the avant-garde painters who redefined aesthetic values in Colombia in the 1950s.
The article referred to here is a review by Leonel Estrada (b. 1921), an abstract artist who has also worked as an agent and critic. Though the article refers to an exhibition of works by Villegas at the Medellín Chamber of Commerce, it was published in the catalogue for his exhibition of paintings at the Vargas Rocha & Cia gallery in Bogotá. This article is significant because it concerns a series of his paintings that marks a transition from his abstract to his figurative period. In this series, a human figure takes center stage in the composition, a feature that distinguishes the work that Villegas has produced to date. These works are peopled by warriors, historical figures, and forms inspired by the natural world that blur into the background. In his review, Estrada posits the idea that Villegas, Fernando Botero (b. 1932), and Alejandro Obregón (1920−1992) all contributed to a consolidated version of a “Latin American language” as a result of their interest in local legends and traditions. Villegas, for his part, focusses on pre-Colombian iconography and the landscape. Estrada seeks to identify elements in the artist’s work that can be identified as a Latin American form of art. In fact, a review of contemporary works reveals that a number of artists at the time also included references to the landscape and to historical or mythological symbols in their work, to varying extents according to their degree of abstraction.