The essay “Reverón y el arte moderno”—written by the Venezuelan critic and curator Luis Enrique Pérez-Oramas (b. 1960) and published in the latter half of the twentieth century—is one of the boldest pieces ever written about the great Venezuelan maestro Armando Reverón (1889–1954). It first appeared in the catalogue for Armando Reverón, the exhibition presented at the Palacio de Velázquez at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, in Madrid in 1992.
Following studies of fundamental importance by intellectuals of the stature of Alfredo Boulton and Juan Calzadilla, whose essays were published in the 1950s and 1970s, respectively, a new round of critical reviews of Reverón’s work began to appear after the publication of Pérez-Oramas’ early writings: Armando Reverón: de los prodigios de la luz a los trabajos del arte (Caracas: Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, 1989) and this essay, in 1992. Since then, the author has produced the most substantial and important body of essays about the painter in recent years, the most recent of which is “Reverón y el arte moderno en América Latina”. Spanish version. (Caracas: MoMA/PAR, 2007).
In “Reverón y el arte moderno” (1992), Pérez-Oramas presents his basic theories on this subject. He analyzes Reverón’s life and work within the context of both universal and Venezuelan history. Using the tools of aesthetics and studies of images and their possible analogies, the critic demythologizes the (allegedly) enigmatic problem of modernism as belonging to a particular, irretrievable place or time, thus taking a very broad approach to the painter’s work. Key features of this essay are the author’s descriptions of Reverón’s emblematic projects, including Cinco figuras, the series of landscapes on the subject of Playón and La maja criolla, works that, according to Pérez-Oramas, can be understood as a “triple emblem of modernity;” in other words, as a form of painting that, “by presenting itself as a scene, as an object, and as Arcadia, can position itself beyond the threat of the demise of pictorial representation.”
This essay was published in the catalogue for the exhibition presented in Madrid in 1992. Two other important, hitherto unpublished essays also appeared in the catalogue: one by the Spanish critic Juan Manuel Bonet (“Reverón en su luz”), and one by the Spanish painter Antonio Saura (“El deslumbramiento”).