Beatriz González’s expansive body of work comprises painting, sculpture and prints, portraying, from the early 1960s to the present day, the contradictions of Colombian society. The biggest themes in her work centre around popular tastes, implacable violence, political corruption and acerbic and sarcastic humour in response to power. This “pop artisan”, as she was dubbed by Argentinean art critic Marta Traba, explores the collective imagery of a nation through the content that issues forth from the mass media, painting themes published in the press and working and adapting major frames of reference in art history, from Goya to Picasso, via Brueghel, Vermeer and Manet. In contrast to the most orthodox versions of Pop, Beatriz González does not salute superficiality; she plumbs the depths of society to demonstrate its unreal, grotesque and almost mythological side.
In conjunction with the exhibition on the artist held in the Museo, Diego García-Moreno’s documentary Beatriz González. ¿Por qué llora si ya reí? (Why Are You Crying If I’d Already Laughed?) will be screened on 22 March, followed by a conversation with the artist, curator and teacher. The documentary depicts Beatriz González’s Auras anónimas (Anonymous Auras, 2009), an intervention which saw her cover the eight thousand empty graves at Bogotá’s Central Cemetery — known locally as the Columbario — with the silhouettes of cargueros, soldiers who carried corpses in plastic sheets, nets, hammocks, etc., images which over appeared repeatedly in the media. By the same token, observing her working process over three years seeks to address the question that lends the film its title: What happened to the tragicomic irony of Beatriz González? At what point did solemnity and fatalism replace the vitality of a person who so often made a country laugh, and who demonstrated, in her own words, “the joy of underdevelopment”? A question that contributes to exploring fifty years of Colombian history through Beatriz González’s work.
22 March – 7pm. Documentary screening and conversation with the artist
24 March – 7pm. Documentary screening