Art and Culture ...
Venezuelan popular art and culture reflects the interesting melting pot of races and cultures present in the country. Each region has its particular music, craftsmanship, gastronomy and mannerisms. For these reasons it is not accurate to say that in Venezuela there is only one typical manifestation of popular culture, on the contrary, it is very varied and rich.
The evolutionary process of Venezuelan popular culture is derived of Indigenous, Hispanic and African roots, consolidated in colonial times. This cultural singularity has been obtained through an intense process of trans-acculturation and miscegenation.
The passing of time has bequeathed to Venezuelan cultural heritage the traditions of diverse indigenous ethnic groups like cave art, basket weaving, pottery and a rich oral tradition.
The national dance, the
joropo, performed at the sound of the music of Venezuelan popular instruments: the
cuatro (Venezuelan four string "guitar"), the harp and the maracas, are associated with the life of the plainsmen or
llaneros; in the central coasts, the African influence is reflected in the dances accompanied by drums and other instruments of African origin.
THE MUSIC IN VENEZUELA
Even though the early colonial period saw a scarcity of compositions of cult music, in 1771, the opening of the
Escuela de Chacao revolutionised the musical scene. Under the influence of Mozart, Haydn, Pleyel and Pergolesi produced great musicians led by the school’s director: Father Pedro Palacios y Sojo, founder of the
Oratorio San Felipe Neri in Caracas.
real musical genius of the nineteenth century was Teresa Carreño, extraordinary pianist. She made her debut when she was 8 years old at Boston’s Irving Hall. Her career, that took her worldwide, spans from 1862 to 1916; composers and critics all over the world admired her. She composed several works for piano, conducted orchestras and sponsored the staging of operas.
The first Venezuelan opera, Virginia, dates from 1873 and his author was Jose Angel Montero.
The principal musical auditorium during a century was the Municipal Theatre of Caracas, inaugurated in 1881 during the government of Antonio Guzmán Blanco.
In the 1930’s there is a renaissance of the Venezuelan music due to the influence of the orchestra conductor and professor Vicente Emilio Sojo, who founded the choral society
Orfeón Lamas and the Symphonic Orchestra of Venezuela. He composed children songs, choral works, masses, requiems, and rescued the memory of the
Escuela de Chacao. Among his collaborators were Juan Bautista Plaza, Jose Antonio Calcaño, Juan Vicente Lecuna and Moisés Moleiro.
Among the most prodigious followers of Sojo were Antonio Lauro, Antonio Estévez, Angel Sauce, Evencio Castellanos, Carlos Figueredo, Inocente Carreño, Nelly Mele Lara and José Antonio Abreu.
Since the creation in 1930 of the Symphonic Orchestra of Venezuela, there have been numerous orchestras in the country. Principal among them are the Orchestra Simón Bolívar (1975), and the National Philharmonic Orchestra (1979).
The activities of the State Foundation for the National System of the Youth and Children Orchestras of Venezuela,
FESNOJIV, have achieved world recognition. This system, founded by Conductor José Antonio Abreu, encompasses 120 youth symphony orchestras and 60 children's symphony orchestras, with 110,000 children and youth involved in the programme. Awarded with the UNESCO International Prize for Music in 1993-94.
In the pre Columbian era, the sensitive nature of the aboriginal people was represented in the petroglyphs that have been found all over the national territory. With the arrival of the Spaniards came as well their painting techniques. At the beginning the works were all brought from Spain, but later on, there started a combination of locally produced and imported paintings.
The colonial period produced a great amount of Venezuelan painters. In the 19th century the most well known painter was Juan Lovera.
During the republican years, impressive works of epical character coexisted with portraits and landscape paintings. The best-known painters of that period were Martín Tovar y Tovar, Antonio Herrera Toro, Arturo Michelena, Cristóbal Rojas, and Ramón Bolet.
In the 20th century Tito Salas continued the works of the previous century school. Several painters were known through the Fine Arts Circle (Círculo de Bellas Artes). Among them were Armando Reverón, Manuel Cabré, Rafael Monasterios, Federico Brandt, Luis Alfredo López Méndez and Emilio Boggio.
After 1936, there is the eruption of new painters with new ideas, like Héctor Poleo, Armando Barrios y Gabriel Bracho. Pedro Centeno Vallenilla represents the epic painting. At the end of the 1940’s the group of the ‘Dissidents’ proposed the estrangement from the academic frames and some of them worked with abstract representation. Pascual Navarro, Alejandro Otero, Mateo Manaure, Luis Guevara Moreno and Perán Ermini formed this group, among others.
In 1948 begins the Free Workshop of Art (Taller Libre de Arte), which gave us the works of Oswaldo Vigas, Omar Carreño, Jacobo Borges, Mercedes Pardo and Luisa Palacios.
The 60’s brought the kinetic art to Venezuela. Their most internationally famous exponents of this movement are the ‘maestros’ Jesús Soto and Carlos Cruz Diez, whose works are in some of the most famous contemporary museums of the world.
The New Figuration (Nueva Figuración) proposes a realist art, and the main artists of this movement are Jacobo Borges, Alirio Palacios, Régulo Pérez, Pedro León Zapata and Alirio Rodríguez.
Bárbaro Rivas, Elsa Morales and Antonio José Fernández, the "man of the ring" are among the best exponents of naïve art.
Carmelo Niño, Pancho Quilici, Carlos Zerpa, Rolando Peña, Henry Bermúdez, Edgar Sánchez, José Campos Biscardi, Corina Briceño, Margot Römer, Juan Calzadilla, Francisco Bellorín, Francisco Hung, Ana María Mazzei, and a whole lot more are the new generation of artists that represent this pictorial movement that goes beyond the Venezuelan frontiers, due to the high quality of their works.