He was imprisoned for three years. The Armenian earthquake shook the waters and subsoil of Kimbaya Gold Museum and the aqueduct networks and power cables were affected, but its structure remained intact and without a single crack in its proud bricks. The building withstood the fury of nature. The museum, winner of the National Architecture Award in 1986, was the temporary seat of the city hall and the government, but Rogelio Salmona, the great Colombian architect, creator of iconic works such as the Park Towers, the Illustrious Guest House or the Virgilio Barco Library, did not build it for the art of politics, but for culture. It needed revitalization. And now it’s back.
The two exhibition halls with Quimbaya Gold Collection they are opening next year, but for now the museum has a new auditorium, a renovated cafe, a digital library, platforms for people with disabilities, a children’s room with a patio where they can have a picnic with their lunch box, a beautiful ethnobotanical garden that brings together the wealth and the natural history of the whole department from 10,000 years ago and the great architecture of Salmona to explore all its corridors and terraces. And to make the plan complete, an extraordinary exhibition. An exhibition that would be the envy of Bogotá or Buenos Aires.
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The artist, curator, architect and museographer Luis Fernando Ramírez has collected more than eighty works from the collection of Bank of the Republic for the exhibition Paradise and Gardens. And it couldn’t be in a better place. Quindío is a true natural paradise and the works communicate, intertwine and communicate with its abundant landscape, its wax palms, its amaranth bushes, its luminous greenery and the museum’s own garden. The exhibition is a beautiful visual essay that explores the idyllic landscape of Adam and Eve and even goes as far as the flowers with which they bid farewell to the heroes and the dead.
Ramírez divided the sample into five parts: Utopias, paradise, gardens, parks, flora and fauna and paradise. To outline his speech, he brought to the Quindío works by Alvaro Barrios, María Fernanda Cardoso, Kevin Mancera, Emma Reyes, Abel Rodríguez, Jan Bruegel the Younger (with a work that could totally be in El Prado) and, among others , the Old Masters of the Savannah School, Dead Nun by Manuel Merchan Cano and Jan van Kessel the Elder. There are more than 80 works: true luxury.
Because in Eden it is possible to stand for hours in front of the painting Bruegel the Younger and his Adam and Eve. This is a 17th-century painting worth getting lost in its smallest details, to appreciate its oranges, its macaws and its two lions lying just a few meters away from the biblical couple. In the same room is a small 19th-century drawing by Henry Ribalier in which 20 monkeys appear to be in a Law of the Jungle-worthy encounter. On the same walls, at the highest ends, are the arera ants of Miguel Ángel Rojas and their shipments of coca leaves.
And there’s more. The gardener who welcomes you to work is a large nineteenth-century watercolor by Ramón Torres Méndez, the pictures of the heavenly muse by José Alejandro Restrepo, a primitive couple making love hidden in a bush by Kevin Mancera and Eva by Ricardo Gómez Campuzano, who extends his bountiful hand to a tempting serpent.
However, the snakes are not as impressive as the magnificent insects that the English diplomat Edward Walhouse Mark painted in the 19th century when he was in Colombia. His beetles and his Magdalena spider are rivaled only by Ribalier’s monkeys and José Antonio Suarez Londono’s rabbit.
Parks deserve a separate paragraph. There are some small oil paintings from the early 20th century by Roberto Paramo, one of the monsters of the Sabana school, which show what the parks of Bogota and Medellin. And a depressing painting by Sergio Trujillo Magnenat from 1943. It’s called Domingo, Avenida Caracas and shows a bright square with well-trimmed grass, a beautiful blue sky, houses with well-tended gardens and lovely green hills that can be seen without the horror of black smoke of the buses of this century. It’s not all bad: there’s a series of drawings by Giovanni Vargas that show the shaky gardens trying to survive in the city.
the end paradise, there is a funeral wreath by Maria Fernanda Cardoso, a garden of bones by the Mexican Yolanda Gutiérrez, the amazing photographic series by Rosa Navarro from Barranquilla, in which she is presented with roses in her eyes and ends with withered flowers; there is also the funerary portrait of Sister Thomasa Josefa de San Rafael, smiling from the beyond and surrounded by flowers. The museum and this exhibit are worth a plane ticket.
FERNANDO GOMEZ ECHEVERI