This 1979 dialogue between María Josefa Pérez and Mercedes Pardo (1921–2005) appeared on the occasion of her first retrospective show, Color: piel, presencia meditada. Mercedes Pardo Exposición antológica at the GAN in Caracas. Pérez presents this exhibition as the result of two decades of art production, although it effectively began earlier than that, and Pardo explains this as a choice to only show her abstract work. The author comments on how “awesome” it is that this is her first retrospective of the Venezuelan modernist painter. The difficulties faced by women artists are reinforced by the title of this article: “I was always Alejandro [Otero]’s wife and not an artist.” Pérez prompts these considerations on gender inequality in the arts by asking if Pardo knows any other cases that, like hers, developed their creative discourse “in silence,” and Mary Brandt, Luisa Palacios, Lya Bermúdez, Gladys Meneses, and Gego are mentioned as examples of women artists who simply “make less noise” than men, an ongoing sentence in Pardo’s reflections. [See in the ICAA Digital Archive (1331347).] Indeed, Gego and Palacios are acknowledged for their pedagogical efforts as well as their artistic successes and, although Pardo doesn’t mention it, she was herself deeply involved in providing access to education in her community by means of a twenty-year teaching experience in several Venezuelan institutions: Banco del Libro, Fundación Mendoza, and the ateliers of the Museo de Bellas Artes.
This article contributes to the literature on Pardo with her own definitions of “color” and “art,” as well as her rebuttal to consider art as inherently connected to beauty or aesthetics. In fact, she argues that both terms belong to a nineteenth-century vocabulary, so that they should no longer be seen as qualifiers of modern and/or contemporary art. Pardo singles out Alexander Calder and Marcel Duchamp for their definitions of “art” and the ways they approached it as the invention of a new game, implying minimal discoveries rather than “big theories.” Pérez understands her as somebody who has equally embraced her childlike awe for the extraordinary, daily aspects of life and for playing with color. The interview makes considerations on the hand architect Carlos Raúl Villanueva (1900–1975) had in transforming the role of the artist in Venezuelan urban integrations (Ciudad Universitaria) and Pardo’s own polychromies for the Banco Obrero agencies, both in Caracas. A discussion on the crisis and necessary changes in art academies curricula is included as a hindrance in young artists’ innovative development.
For other reviews of Color: piel, presencia meditada. Mercedes Pardo Exposición antológica (1979), see Manuel Bolívar Graterol, “Ambigüedad y disonancia” (1331331); Virginia París, “Mercedes Pardo y su presencia meditada” (1331347); Juan Acha, “Color: Piel, Presencia Meditada de Mercedes Pardo” (1331395); anonymous, “Mercedes Pardo: ‘Presencia Meditada’” (1331411); Elizabeth Schön, “Exposición antólogica” (1331299); and Roberto Guevara, “Mercedes Pardo: Color persuasivo” (1331315).