Beatriz Gonzalez was born in 1938 in Bucaramanga, Colombia. She lives and works in Bogotá.
Closely entangled with the violent history of her generation, Mrs. González‘s artistic practice explores the socio-political concerns of post-modern Colombia. Constant armed conflicts, including a ten-years civil war, called La Violencia (1948 – 1958), and later the FARC guerrilla-movement (1964 – 2016) have impacted her perception of society until today. In means of her paintings, drawings and sculptures Mrs González picks out the often tragic moments of this troubled era, acting like a contemporary witness. A controversial choice of subjects, that in the first two decades of her artistic practice, starting from the early 1960‘s, she approaches through a critical sense of humor and irony.
The press is of vital importance to her work, as Mrs González collects images from scandal sheets and advertisements as substantial source for her thematic remakes. She likes to „start from something that already existed“, as she states: a graphic referent, a print, filtering it through a creative process. Political leaders like governors and royals, celebrities, but also victims of passion crimes, like in her key piece Los Suicidas del Sisga (The Suicides of the Sisga), 1965, are the protagonists of her compositions. The modesty of Mrs González‘s technique tends to mislead the observer, giving her artwork a seemingly light appearance: Vital, bold colors and irrational spaces for very concrete and serious subjects. Prominent art critics like Marta Traba like to see Mrs González as the Latin American answer to North American Pop Art. But rather as a pop artist, she considers herself as an artist of the folk and her choice of color and technique are original and very related to the country. It is the burgundy, blue, green, orange and purple – colors of the Colombian countryside, as she experienced them in the architecture of Bucaramanga as a child. Simultaneously, Mrs González‘s works show a profound knowledge of western art history, often referring to the old masters, decorative folk art, collectibles and religious votive images.
The increasing brutality of political incidents, like the attack of the Palace of Justice in 1985 in her hometown Bogotá, lead her art to a darker direction. The subtle, sarcastic dispute provoked by Mrs González‘s works until then, becomes now a serious, almost radical position. Along with themes of death, drug trade, the military and most recently migration as a national and global subject, the colors become more dramatic, turning to dark green, brown and blue. Expanding her thematic and technical territory, Mrs González dives deeper into the cultural identity. Her subjects rotate about rural tasks, dreams and habits of rural people, giving ethic shape to color and images, that have been forgotten or put aside. Mrs González always took her position as an artist very serious, leaving her art open, what makes her one of the most influential living artists in Colombia, today.
Mrs González has exhibited in many of the world‘s leading museums and her works are encountered in the permanent collections of important institutions in Europe and The Americas. In 2015 her works were shown in the major group exhibition “The World goes Pop” at Tate Modern, London, UK. An extensive interview with Mrs González was published in the volume “Conversations in Colombia” in 2015 by the art historian and curator Hans Ulrich Obrist.
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, US
Tate Modern, London, UK
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, US
Deutsche Bank, Frankfurt, Germany
Museo del Barrio, New York, US
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain
Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas, Venezuela
Museo Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá, Colombia
Museo de Arte del Banco de la República, Bogotá, Colombia
Museo de Arte Moderno, Medellín, Colombia
Museo de Arte Moderno La Tertulia, Cali, Colombia
Museo de Arte de la Universidad Nacional, Bogotá, Colombia
Suramericana de Seguros, Medellín, Colombia
Museo de Arte Moderno, Bogotá, Colombia