Chile Arts and Literature

Chile Arts and Literature


The coup d’état of 1973 marks, also from the literary point of view, a profound imbalance between the rich production that preceded it and the subsequent one, which has to deal with the strong cultural repression responsible for a limited intellectual growth within of the country. To this must be added the impressive exodus of writers, a phenomenon which, in addition to preventing the drawing of a unitary picture of Chilean literature of the last twenty years, produces a geographical division, still present today despite the latest political developments, among those intellectuals who have chosen or they were forced to leave the country and the writers who remained at home. Among the first, J. Donoso, undoubtedly the most important Chilean writer of recent years, continued to produce with equal intensity.

With Tres novelitas burguesas (1977), the analysis of the degraded society, which already appeared with grotesque tones in the Obsceno pájaro de la noche (1970; trans. It., 1973), passes through the filter of humor and irony. In 1978, Donoso published Casa de campo (trad. It., Marulanda. The country house, 1985), a novel with a perfect structure, in which the themes dear to the writer – the house, the family, the transgression of order – return with the same obsession in a fantastic, equivocal and enigmatic poetic universe, where, after all, reality is much more present than it appears. In El jardín de al lado (1981), Donoso constructs a painful metaphor of exile and the harsh experience of the Latin American intellectual uprooted from his own land, not entirely devoid of autobiographical elements. Di Donoso has also been translated into Italian an essay of considerable importance: Personal history of the boom (1974). Among his latest titles we point out La desesperanza (1986; trad. It., La disperanza, 1987).

According to listofusnewspapers, among the younger writers who have published from exile we also remember: A. Skármeta (b.1940), author of short stories, who published his first novel Soñé que la nieve ardía in 1975 (it., 1976) and in 1977 No pasó nada (1977); P. Délano, also author of short stories and novels, who in En este lugar sagrado (1977) through the memories of the protagonist arrives at the analysis of the hours immediately following the coup d’etat. Similar reflections appear in A. Dorfman’s Muerte en la costa (1973). On other occasions the denunciation against the military is expressed through a sort of non-fiction literature (as in the case of Chile Cerda in Chile. La traición de los generales) or in autobiographical memoirs, for example, Tejas Verdes (1974) by H. Valdéz. More known as an essayist than as a novelist, in recent years F. Alegría has also linked his name to a narrative of denunciation. Perhaps a separate case can be considered the works of J. Edwards (b. 1931), who with the novel Los convidados de piedra (1978) evokes in a very particular way the tragedy produced by the coup d’etat. A refined writer who prefers the urban environment among his themes, Edwards published El museo de cera in 1980. If the national drama and denunciation are the central themes of the writing of exile, the return to childhood and the avoidance of reality represent the Leitmotiv of many works of the most recent generation of writers who have remained in their homeland, such as JL Rosasco, A. Couvé and Chile Hunneus.

Since the seventies no poet has achieved the notoriety of a Neruda or a Parra, even if poets such as O. Lara, O. Hahn, F. Schopf should not be forgotten. In addition, verses of a certain value emerged from the “talleres clandestinos de poesía”; the best exponent of this poetic experimentalism is R. Zurita.

The abrupt change due to the military dictatorship has produced restrictions and censorship in the country’s theatrical activities; the closing attitude influenced the dramaturgy, without however signifying a total arrest of it. Authors who continued to write in exile include A. Sieveking (b. 1934), author of Pequeños animales abatidos (1975), 1975 Casa de las Américas-Teatro prize; S. Vodanovic (b. 1926), who in 1978 published Cuántos años holds un día ; in the same year MA de la Parra publishes Lo raw, lo cocido y lo podrido. We also mention La secreta obscenidad de cada día and Infieles by the latter author, both from 1988.

Figurative arts

In Chile, in the seventies, the interest of the new artists turned to the Spanish Informal, especially to that of A. Tápies, to American Action painting and Pop art, as well as to Argentine Realism; The Fantastic Realism of South American writers also exerts fascination.

In the context of painting, flat figures and in a metaphysical aura emerge from the work of R. Opazo (b. 1935); the link between realism and hyperrealism is M. Venegas (1907-1979); a very faithful hyperrealist is J. Bendersky (b. 1922), and in the same vein, T. Daskam (b. 1934); the passage from the Informal to the Conceptual is represented by F. Brugnoli (b. 1935) and by JP Langlois Vicuña (b. 1936, also known only by his second surname, Vicuña). From the United States propose an art based on the use of technological means J. Downey (b. 1940), A. Siña (b. 1945), E. Castro Cid (b. 1937).

Inside the Chile some avant-garde experiments are involved in political action: daring performances, videos, photographs, street actions are made with the aim of getting to politically sensitize the public.

After the victory of Unidad Popular in 1970, an enthusiastic adhesion of artists from all over the world to the socialist government led to the donation of works to establish the Museo de la Solidaridad. To direct this initiative is the Brazilian art critic M. Pedrosa, an exile in Chile. The diaspora created with the 1973 coup compromised the project, but with the name of Museo de la Resistencia it continued to exist in exile, awaiting the return to democracy.

In the short period of government of Unidad Popular (1970-73) a Train of Culture travels the country with a colorful human load: painters, writers, dancers, musicians, filmmakers, doctors, politicians, etc.

Since the end of the Sixties, the political tension in Chile has produced singular forms of visual communication, some of which made by anonymous and amateurs, but nevertheless to be taken into consideration due to the particular reality of the country. A novelty arises during the election campaign with the muralist brigades: groups of young people contribute to the propaganda of Unidad Popular by furtively writing on the walls the name of its leader, S. Allende. After the electoral triumph they painted the first real mural on 6 September 1970. Then the brigades (Elmo Catalán, Ramona Parra, Inti Paredo) continue to work by making paintings on the walls that praise socialism, and denounce the abuses by joining humanitarian campaigns. With the military dictatorship, brigades operating abroad were formed (Venceremos, Pablo Neruda, Brigada Internacional, Salvador Allende, etc.). Another expression of protest are the arpilleras, embroideries on small-format media with which the misdeeds of the dictatorship are denounced.

After the coup, little news leaked about the internal artistic situation, while abroad the exiles gave life to demonstrations designed to remind the international audience of the Chilean situation. In the autumn of 1974 the Venice Biennale dedicates a space to Chile, in which it presents the Chilean poster exhibition: posters printed between 1970 and 1974, some designed by famous artists, concerning the political facts of that period. In 1987, the largest manifestation of Chilean culture abroad was organized in Madrid, under the title Chile vive.

Since 1910, the main art institution has been the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, in Santiago. The Escuela de Bellas Artes since 1929 is part, together with the Escuela de Artes Aplicadas and the Conservatorio Nacional de Música, of the Facultad de Ciencias y Artes Aplicadas which, since 1948, has taken the name of Facultad de Bellas Artes. Since 1936, graduates have received the university degree of Licenciado en Bellas Artes.

Chile Arts and Literature

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