The sixth convulsed decade and the Eduardo León Jimenes Art Contest

In 1964, Eduardo León Asensio conceives the idea of ​​organizing an artistic contest, discusses it with maestro Yoryi Morel and announces the First Eduardo León Jimenes Art Contest, which has historically become the main private support for the visual arts in the Dominican Republic. 

The incidence of this event in the career and projection of the artists who participated in its calls during those years is compelling.

As we explained previously, in the sixties the art world was stimulating and its material and intellectual production, definitely indispensable. New media, such as graphics and performance, developed, and sculpture expanded rapidly in very different directions. The artists of the moment reproduce dynamism and urgency and define this from new experimental practices and socially engaged languages. The artistic production of the 60 captures not only a tumultuous period of political and social change, but also reflects the impact of civil strife and the principles of a particular ideologization in the world of Dominican art. The artistic production of the moment is a complex narrative, full of symbolic and gestural contents. This way of approaching the artistic act as a reaction, in response, is perhaps one of the fundamental contributions of the creators of that period. That is, by transforming the narrative and the evolution of discourses from the notion of progress -very usual in the discourses of the history of art-, to one of action, reflection and reaction, the artists' own relationship with the historiography of the art changes. The activist and dynamic artists of the moment unload the art of that need to follow a style or a way of doing that was in progression to autonomize the formal and conceptual of stylistic paths with other lineages.

The Eduardo León Jimenes Art Contest, and the collection that emerges from it, is going to be a kind of thermometer of the social, political and economic circumstances of the country, as well as the courses taken by its artistic production. This shows the weight of local and immediate stories. Just as Don Pedro Mir called our people "sad and oppressed", their avatars and existential conditions are going to be a fundamental part of the artists' agenda, just as there will be clear tendencies toward abstraction, with gestural and organic nuances in the most of the cases. These ways of working, from their very particular perspectives, tried to reconstruct the way of doing art, not only from the reconsideration of the form, but from the artistic practice itself. That legacy of autonomy, then, is also one of action and commitment to the context, as a redefinition of artistic practices per se.

Taken from the Book Braiding a History in Progress, Contemporary Dominican Art in the Context of the Caribbean

Sara Hermann, Historian and Art Researcher
Leon Center Advisor

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