The journalist and critic José Ratto Ciarlo (1904–1997) ponders the work of Chilean artist Marco Bontá Costa (1899–1974), a figurative artist of what is known as the Generación del Trece, a group of Chilean artists who studied under the tutelage of Spanish painter Fernando Álvarez de Sotomayor and took part in the 1913 exhibition organized by José Proda for the newspaper El Mercurio in Santiago. Their works were characterized by pictorial realism and social content and ranged from genre scenes to portrait and landscapes. This article stems from Bontá Costa’s 1943 exhibition of landscapes in Caracas at the Museo de Bellas Artes. He was in Venezuela since 1938 in order to organize the teaching of applied arts upon official request of the government; 1943 was his last year in the country where he taught printmaking, stained glass, and mural painting.
Despite Ratto Ciarlo’s insistence on interpreting the Venezuelan landscapes in Bontá Costa’s paintings as female bodies, the artist himself explains them through the ruling geometrical principles. The author refers to the Venezuelan abstract artist Mercedes Pardo (1921–2005), who was married to Bontá Costa in 1945 and divorced soon thereafter. Although this is not mentioned in the article, by October 1943, Pardo was about to graduate from the Escuela de Artes Plásticas y Aplicadas de Caracas and had been studying and producing art for years. That year she was still investigating figuration and had not yet ventured into abstract language, so that her comments on Bontá Costa’s work Aledaños de Caracas (and his creative processes) show already her strong commitment to the preparatory phases of art; in fact, most of her interviews stress this issue. The author’s references to Pardo as the “dueña de la casa” who serves the tea, and to her comments on Bontá Costa’s work, are problematic due to the omission of both knowledge and expertise.
[For other texts by José Ratto Ciarlo, see in the ICAA Digital Archive: “En pro y en contra de Alejandro Otero” (850770); and “Pocas veces se habrá registrado en Venezuela...” (1101966). And specifically on the painter, see Gloria Carnevali, “El Espacio en la pintura de Mercedes Pardo” (1102285); María Fernanda Palacios, “Pintura y vida” (1102253); and Elizabeth Schon, “La plenitud más plena” (1102269).]