The spare elements of Beatriz González’s paintings are enough to satirize mass culture and portray the history of Colombia that the artist had to experience. She was born in Bucaramanga in 1938, and from the beginning of her career she was inspired by photographs published by the media. The work Los suicidas del Sisga No. 2 (1965) emerged from the news of a couple who committed suicide. The artist turne the photo that both took before dying into an icon. Her intention was different when she reproduced the scene of a social event presided over by the then President Julio César Turbay at the beginning of the 1980s. The joviality of Decoración interior (1981), a pop-art image in which Turbay is seen drinking and laughing with the upper class, contrasted with the increasing violence in Colombia.
When irony does not suffice as a political gesture, Beatriz González resorts to repetition. The series Los cargueros (2007-2008) reproduces the silhouette of two men carrying a dead man in a hammock, and in Las Delicias (1997) the images of women crying are a constant.
At KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin, the work of González – one of the most important names in the history of Colombian art – is covered through themes. The elegance of her humor appears in the central hall of the building with ready-mades like The Last Table (1970), a pop/kitsch reproduction of Da Vinci’s The Last Supper.
This is the artist’s largest exhibition held abroad. Through January 6, 2019.
Photos and text by Cristina Esguerra, Colombian cultural journalist.