This article by the poet, art critic, and locally well-known journalist Rafael Pineda is of interest because its review of the work being produced by Carlos Cruz-Diez and many of his fellow artists provides some insight into how artists in Venezuela reacted to the violent statements made by other young artists who were living and working in Paris at the time, such as Alejandro Otero, Mateo Manaure, Perán Erminy, Pacual Navarro, Narciso Debourg, Dora Hersen, Aimée Battistini, and J. R. Guillent Pérez. These artists had taken a public stand against “national” art by starting the group Los Disidentes (ca. 1950). According to Pineda’s review, this exhibition took place a month after the appearance of the first issue of the magazine published in France by artists who were exploring Geometric Abstraction, thus rebelling against what they considered to be the anachronistic art being produced in Venezuela. The somewhat aggressive reaction among young artists such as Cruz-Diez reflected their support for the kind of art being produced in their country and their opposition to the internationalism of Geometric Abstraction, which they saw as an imported art that was blind to the harsh sociopolitical realities in Venezuela and Latin America.
Cruz-Diez, briefly quoted by Pineda, expresses his aesthetic and political approach at the time. At a strictly visual arts level, Cruz-Diez shows his willingness to distance himself from the major Modern masters (Paul Cézanne and Pablo Picasso) that his teachers had presented as the great inventors of contemporary art; instead, he embraced the techniques and subject matter of primitive Flemish artists, in whom he saw an example of total commitment to the social realities of the country by depicting the lives of the lower classes. Cruz-Diez wanted to roam around the country, going from village to village and hamlet to hamlet, documenting the poverty of the people whose true conditions nobody wanted to see: “That’s where the motivations I am seeking are, the conditions that have not been seen until now because they are right under our noses.”
His Marxist leanings are apparent in his rejection of the kind of art that focuses solely on visual art issues; sarcastically paraphrasing the slogan “Art for Art’s Sake,” he says: “It is not, after all, Landscape for Landscape’s Sake,” thus echoing the Marxist theorists who attack those who are involved in making art for the elites that is oblivious to the suffering of the poorest people. Cruz-Diez’s arguments are of interest here because they shed light on his inner conflicts, especially considering that, four years later, he began his first explorations of Geometric Abstraction.