This critical article by Roberto Guevara is of interest because it examines the dynamic nature of the state’s cultural efforts in partnership with the private sector during the oil boom years in Venezuela, as well as the contradictions that helped to dilute the official cultural policies of the different democratically elected governments. The article is divided into two distinct sections. In the first one, Guevara criticizes the instability and inefficiency of the official state organization responsible for cultural activities (the INCIBA) that was unable to fulfill its promises which, in this case, meant organizing a retrospective exhibition and a monographic study of the works produced by artists who were honored with the National Prize for Visual Art, the first of which was awarded to Carlos Cruz-Diez in 1971. However, as the author notes, the inefficiency of the INCIBA notwithstanding, the state pursued a far more active cultural policy than its official agency did. The state, in fact, worked with some of its other entities in partnership with the private sector to promote a considerable number of cultural undertakings, including the extension of the Museo de Bellas Artes in Caracas and the Museo de Arte Moderno Jesús Soto in Ciudad Bolívar, financed by the Bolívar state government and the CVG (Corporación Venezolana de Guayana). Guevara also mentions the involvement of other government departments and private entities in the financing of major urban and architectural projects that relied on the participation of Venezuelan artists, essentially those working in the Kinetic arts.
The second section focuses on one of the most felicitous initiatives that sprang from this spirit of innovation: the installation of the Sala Cruz-Diez in the east wing extension of the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Caracas. It was located on the premises of the electricity company, CADAFE (Compañía Anónima de Administración y Fomento Eléctrico), which provided the necessary financing along with many contributions from the private sector. Guevara describes the Sala as having a sort of lobby that houses the author’s “obra plana” (Inducciones and Colores aditivos) [Inductions and Color Additives], followed by what he refers to as two “environmental booths” that invite the viewer to participate in the work. There is a Cámara de cromosaturación (Chromosaturation Booth) designed to present pure (almost physiological) color that encourages the viewer to experience pure chromatic sensations with no references or conflict between one color and another. Guevara thus reveals that he does not fully understand the artist’s project where, on the contrary, all interactions that take place as the viewer moves from one chromosaturated area to another are of vital interest. There is also an Ambiente cromointerferente (Chromointerference Environment) that is not merely an artwork but an experience that involves all the available space and is, according to Guevara, the true accomplishment of the Sala Cruz-Diez. Once again, the article reveals the limitations of this critic who claims to be fascinated by the effects of the chromatic experience but does not probe its objectives in any great depth.