Antonio Caro, considered the father of Colombian conceptual art and a Latin American reference, died this Monday at the San Ignacio hospital in Bogotá for still unknown causes. His career of almost half a century made him one of the most representative artists of his country, with unforgettable pieces such as Imperialism is a paper tiger, the Serie Everything is very expensive, the Tribute to Manuel Quintín Lame or, especially, the 1976 work in which the word Colombia is read with the Coca-Cola typeface. With this last work, in which Caro thus addressed the irruption of foreign symbols in the national identity, he produced at the time a great scandal in the National Salon of artists.
“It is a reference as great and as powerful as the works of [Fernando] Botero and has been several times on the cover of specialized magazines and exhibited in places such as the Georges Pompidou ”, he fired Time, “He was a locomotive, the great rebel and the great example for his entire generation and for two or three generations more”. Genial and irreverent, Caro was told from a visual guerrilla to a precursor of the pop Colombian, and among many anecdotes the occasion is remembered when, after not being accepted in a National Artists’ Hall, he slapped one of his critics.
Caro entered the Faculty of Fine Arts at the National University of Colombia with one of the best admission scores of all time in 1969, but did not graduate. “They should never have admitted me, I’m blind and I don’t have any fine motor skills,” he used to affirm, as the Colombian newspaper recalls in its obituary.
“In 1973 I started working at an advertising agency called Leo Burnett. Apart from getting the potato thing, I think that the little I know about communication, or the little that I achieve in communication, I learned it in that advertising agency. You do a commercial for a soap and that message, like a missile, has to hit the target, if it isn’t going to hit the target, they don’t make the missile. Everything that an advertising agency does has to hit the mark, the target is the desire of the people ”, Caro told art teacher Lucas Ospina in 2014 extensive interview for the magazine Arcadia.
“I have a very nice speculation that creativity has been the engine of human development. That it has been twisted is not the fault of creativity ”, pointed out the artist, who after exhibiting in galleries in London, New York or Mexico lived for years giving workshops throughout Colombia. He also participated as a consecrated creator in the 2015 ARCO Madrid fair, in which Colombia was the guest of honor.
“He is recognized worldwide for his ability to exploit the visual potential of words. His work uses unconventional communication techniques and forms to convey concise messages that refer to socio-political and cultural issues, ”says the gallery’s curator. Casas Reigner, where you can see several of his works, as well as in the Museums of the Bank of the Republic or the Museum of Modern Art in Bogotá. “Repetition is essential for its conceptual strategy, which in addition to reiterating communication, emphasizes meaning and provides new readings,” assesses the gallery about the myopic artist with wild hair who denounced the injustices of capitalism.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.