Alvaro Barrios

Categories: Writings on Álvaro Barrios

By Eduardo Serrano. From the exhibition brochure 10 Años de arte colombiano (10 Years of Colombian Art), Museo la Tertulia, Cali, 1971


1969. Caja de madera con dibujos en grafito, tinta china, lápiz de color y acuarela. (s.d.)

Tarjeta sepia (Sepia Card). 1969. Wooden box with drawings in graphite, colored pencil, watercolor and India ink. [dimensions unknown]

Appealing to the aesthetics of cheesiness, Álvaro Barrios has developed works that are monochromatic fantasies that he traps inside boxes with a “collage,” which are very close to his acquired and extremely new preference for nostalgia. Barrios’ works, however, are not designed to satisfy momentary predilections, but to remain. Historical variables will undoubtedly add new meaning to the original elements of these works. Works that, up to this moment, are executed with the technical mastery of a veritable draftsman, a line magician who uses difficult tonalities to achieve unbelievable textures such as the one resembling an old magazine. Time can tarnish the pejorative brightness of the frost lying on the sentimental and commercial exaggeration of postcards and Mexican films. But the true essence of Barrios’ flawless graphic works will remain. Its main power is the imagination of the artist, his passion not only for absorbing reality, but for definitely controlling it.


…It is difficult to gaze into Álvaro Barrios’ boxes without experiencing within ourselves the admiration felt by someone who understands, for the first time, the arbitrary reality of poetry.  All of his works dwell with an illogical poetic neatness, which relates them to Surrealism without diminishing the artist’s commitment to his own language. All of his works possess a certain formal independence that enables him to, for instance, locate his drawings in unexpected three-dimensional planes… Barrios creates each part of the “collage” graphically by adding a particular accent that is totally his own to the nostalgic silence of his landscapes. But the boxes themselves, their shape, their texture, and their intention indicate the broadness of Barrios’ visual and conceptual eagerness. They are signs of imminent projections, they express an unpredictability because they are part of a process that is yet to finish but remains completely valid because of its incompleteness.