In 1958 José Antonio Rial described Cruz-Diez as a decidedly modern champion of a kind of art that was based on contemporary science, more concerned with the internal structure of matter than with his countrymen’s social problems. Barely three years earlier, the Venezuelan artist was making preparations for his first trip to Europe and promising to be “more creole than I am now” when he returned. He spent almost all of the 1950s besieged by the contradictions that were being discussed in art circles in those days: socially committed (though not necessarily political or ideological) art steeped in the country’s cultural reality versus a “universal” art born in modern times, of the kind that Jesús Soto spoke to him about in his letters.
José Antonio Rial, the Spanish playwright and journalist who lived in Venezuela, presented a profile of a man who was interested in the mysticism of the movement, even when “the movement” in question might not necessarily be the same one. Just as prehistoric men sought to “capture the mystery of movement with still forms,” artists like Cruz-Diez and Soto “strive to describe vibrating matter” because their approach already includes Einstein’s ideas on the subject of time-space, the fourth dimension. According to Rial, Baroque art revolves around itself, whereas Gothic art (tries to move) by aiming for the sky. The art that the pair of young Kinetic artists makes is based on physiological principles of vision, on movement as such and, according to the article, should be viewed from the perspective of people who are “open to innovation and eager to conquer new frontiers.” Rial also discusses another idea that Cruz-Diez has championed all his life, which is that he thinks of himself as a “researcher” who addresses problems that may help others produce the great painting of the future. Cruz-Diez has, in fact, always thought of himself as a “primitive American,” an artist whose dreams are harbingers of what lies ahead.
Among the ideas that Cruz-Diez champions, the article emphasizes the need to be both an artist and a theorist, “because grand concepts have foundered and must be reconstructed” according to the ideas and imperatives of the period. It makes sense that—just as the inhabitants of the caves of Altamira and Lascaux sought to capture the movement of a galloping animal—today’s artists should seek to portray the mysterious turmoil of the matter “that is associated with the mind, the movement, which is the basis of everything that is miraculously formed.” The stark contrast between these statements and the ones published in the Venezuelan press a few years earlier must have surprised or exasperated more than one reader; perhaps this explains “the error” in this review: instead of publishing one of the works discussed by the writer (Construcciones en cadena [Chain Constructions], from 1957–58), the article includes a nationalist example of folk art.