It’s time to revise outdated clichés about Colombia and take a closer look at this kaleidoscopic South American country. Art is alive and more than well in Colombia. Bogotá has established itself as an influential hotspot in the international contemporary art scene. While Colombia’s major cities are electrifying — speckled with hip live music bars, artsy cafés, provocative street art, contemporary galleries and an array of conscientiously curated historical museums — easygoing pueblos (towns) offer a break from hectic city life. The wealth of both Colombia’s culture and nature make this Latin American gem a top destination for those seeking inspiration and artistic variety, far from overcrowded and overpriced tourist magnets. Here are five reasons artists should visit Colombia:
Established artists and well-curated museums
Fernando Botero and Gabriel García Márquez are among the most well-known Colombian artists. Despite their indisputable significance, Colombia has a bounty of influential artists. For example, the work of Doris Salcedo, a Bogotá-based sculptor, performance and installation artist, has been featured in London’s Tate Modern. Her installation ‘Fragmentos’ — a counter-monument commemorating the victims of the Colombian conflict — is on permanent display in Bogota’s Candelaria neighbourhood.. Pedro Ruiz’s dreamy and delicate works depicting Colombia’s natural richness can be marvelled at in the Museo Nacional. The colourful pieces of the highly acclaimed Colombian painter Ana Mercedes Hoyos can be seen at Bogotá’s Museum of Modern Art (MAMBO). The museum building itself was designed by Colombian architect Rogelio Salmona, who is best known for his iconic use of red brick and his progressive approach to creating democratic spaces.
The exquisitely curated Museo del Oro in Bogotá strikes a perfect balance between educational significance and visual enchantment. Showcasing the craftsmanship and finesse of works of gold from the pre-Colombian era, this museum is home to the largest collection of gold artefacts in the world. Also located in the Candelaria, it’s an absolute must-see and a captivating visual experience that, above all, demonstrates a love for storytelling, indigenous history and detail. The Botero Museum and the adjacent art collection of the Banco de la República in Bogotá contain one of Latin America’s most important art collections, featuring works not only from Botero and other influential Colombian artists, but also from masters such as Edgar Degas, Gustav Klimt, Pablo Picasso and many more. The Museo Casa de la Memoria in Medellín also does an exceptional job at showcasing the country’s complex history in a contemporary, compassionate and educational way. Most striking is the use of art to display historical facts, commemorate the victims of the conflict and elaborate on human rights.
More influential Colombian artists worth checking out
- Beatriz González
- Miguel Ángel Rojas
- Edgar Negret
- Antonio Caro
- Monica Bravo
- Carlos Rojas
- Johanna Calle
- Mateo López
- Alejandro Obregon
An exciting emerging art scene
Next to its many established artists, Colombia also has an intriguing emerging art scene. Musicians, painters, animation artists, illustrators and designers are flocking into cool neighbourhoods like San Felipe, a barrio that has become one of Bogotá’s main art districts. La Macarena, Quinta Camacho and Chapinero in Bogotá have become magnets for artists and creatives alike. Since 2018, San Felipe hosts Noche San Felipe, an open studio night in which galleries open to the public free of charge. The neighbourhood of Usaquén is also experiencing a growing artistic scene, consisting of new and established galleries, as well as many artist studios.
Bogotá’s young art scene has artists eager to exhibit in more unconventional spaces, explains Juan Tapias, a Bogotá local and art aficionado. Emerging artists work in a diverse range of media and are ready to carve out a space for themselves. According to Ernesto Soto, a Bogotá-based artist and painter, young artists seek to “build their own vision, and whilst doing so, they reinvent the public and the market.”
These charismatic neighbourhoods also boast a rich gastronomic offer that encompasses excellent restaurants, comfy cafes and trendy bars. This ultimately turns the artistic quarters into cultural and social hubs.
Cristina Umaña, an illustrator and artist also based in Bogotá, points out that the emerging art scene’s spaces are characteristically smaller and frequently serve as both artist studios and exhibition spaces. This holds true especially when compared to more established galleries and institutions such as Galería El Museo, Galería La Cometa, Casas Riegner. Outside of Bogotá, Umaña recommends Lugar a Dudas in Cali, a creative hub that she describes as “a fascinating space to experience visual art.” Also located in Cali, Ernesto Soto suggests paying a visit to the Museo de La Tertulia.
Lastly, NC-Arte, Flora and Odeón are engaging cultural spaces in Bogotá that regularly draw in the young art scene. According to Umaña, NC-Arte is a phenomenal exhibition space with “a truly unique architecture.” Flora, on the other hand, describes itself as “focused on an artistic formation that is centred around artistic practice, criticism, and intercultural exchange.” Odeón, housed in one of Bogotá’s first cinemas, regularly hosts exhibitions, performances, discussions, and art fairs. Finally, Soto recommends the Instituto de Visión to discover new and thought-provoking artists.
Colombian emerging artists worth checking out:
- Laura Noguera
- Tahuanty Jacanamijoy
- Ernesto Soto
- Sebastian Fierro
- Juan Rodriguez
- Daniel Salamanca
- José Sarmiento
- Sergio Román
- Antonio Bermúdez
- Cristina Umaña Durán
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