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‘Art Tells What History Cannot’

First large-scale U.S. retrospective of Beatriz González's works opened at Perez Art Museum in Miami

“I never wanted to be an artist,” laughed 81-year old painter Beatriz Gonzalez at the opening of her exhibition at the Miami’s Perez Art Museum on April 18, 2019. This is the first large-scale U.S. retrospective of the internationally celebrated Colombian artist.

Growing up during La Violencia in Bucaramanga, a politically volatile era of the ‘60s, Beatriz Gonzalez stopped her academic training in painting, turning instead to mass media, using Latin American newspapers and magazines narratives to find her unique voice and create colorful and critical works that addressed socio-political issues in her home country.

From newspapers to Old Masters, from bright pop art to dark-side immersion, her art portfolio looks like a long reading magazine featured 'behind-the-curtains' events.

Gonzalez's iconic work The Suicide of the Sisga(1965) was based on a story, published in a local newspaper, about two lovers who jumped off a dam of the river Sisga to preserve their love. One glance does not tell the whole story. On the one hand, grey, flat, “newspaper-like” faces and headlines still remind viewers about the complexity of life. On the other hand, bold colors still loudly proclaim thirst for life and injustice.

‘Art tells what history cannot,’ repeated Beatriz González, inviting everyone to take a historical journey.

A colorful 1986 painting Los Papagayos depicts the corrupt leaders of Colombia during that time. A year earlier, at least 30 guerrillas from the rebel group Movement M-19, which fought for democracy and a transparent political system, stormed the Palace of Justice and took 300 hostages, with the attention putting then-President Belasario Betancur and his Defense Minister on trial for violating a peace agreement. The government responded with a heavy assault on the palace, which left at least 100 people dead.

Beatriz González. Los papagayos, 1987. Oil on paper. 29 1/2 x 78 inches. Collection Pérez Art Museum Miami, gift of Jorge M. Pérez

"My art changed then. I felt that we couldn’t laugh anymore. The colors changed too," said Beatriz. "It went from Pop to something darker." The latest works, like Silence, Self-portrait, and Paradise, embody deep concerns. The artist bares her soul, which feels, loves, and empathizes with her country, her community, and her viewer.

Beatriz González: A Retrospective will be on view at Pérez Art Museum Miami till September 1, 2019 before traveling to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.


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