EL SONIDO DE LA LUZ (I)

En el Nuevo Mundo, la América española, las artes plásticas, la pintura, la escultura y el grabado, estuvieron directamente ligadas al culto religioso durante muchísimo tiempo. En la medida en que fueron apareciendo templos, fue haciéndose mayor la demanda de pinturas y esculturas religiosas, que en buena parte se satisfacía importándolas de Europa, bien fuese originales o copias, pero que pronto generó la necesidad de que o se trajeran artistas de España o algunos de los que habían atravesado la mar océana, o sus hijos, o sus nietos, aprendieran a pintar, a esculpir o a tallar. Desde luego, los artistas plásticos que los primeros siglos de conquista fueron mucho más importantes en México o en Perú que en regiones menos favorecidas, como Venezuela, que tendieron abiertamente a importar, antes que a producir obras de arte. Y a importar artistas antes que producirlos. Además, el clima de la mayor parte del territorio venezolano no favorecía la conservación de obras de arte, y muchas de ellas no han podido sobrevivir hasta nuestros días. Por otra parte, hubo que esperar hasta el siglo XX, cuando Alfredo Boulton se interesó en investigar el pasado, para que se despertara algún interés por las artes plásticas venezolanas anteriores a la gran quema que fue la Independencia. Boulton hizo un trabajo detectivesco en el Registro Principal de Caracas y en el Archivo Eclesiástico, lo que le permitió descubrir que en panorama de las artes plásticas venezolanas antes de la Independencia era muy superior a lo que hasta su trabajo se había creído. Descubrió que en testamentos de aquellos tiempos se identificaban más de dos mil trescientas pinturas en manos de particulares, sin contarlos cuadros, esculturas y tallas que tenía la Iglesia. La mayoría de esas obras era de carácter religioso, pero había también una cantidad considerable de piezas sobre temas no religiosos, obras hechas para decorar y adornar casas principales, naturalezas muertas, retratos, piezas sobre temas históricos y hasta mitológicos, pero no hubo en realidad manifestaciones relacionadas con lo indígena, como ocurrió en donde los españoles encontraron civilizaciones importantes, como en México y Perú. Firmas como Carreño, Mayno, Herrera, Valdés, identifican a los primeros que en suelo venezolano se dedicaron a la plástica. En realidad, bien porque no los hubo o porque no se conservaron, casi no se han encontrado obras venezolanos anteriores al siglo XVII. Y no hay nombres que identifiquen a los autores de las obras primeras localizadas por Boulton y otros investigadores. En general, el anonimato era la característica de esos primeros artistas de nuestro país. De 1602 son las primeras obras firmadas por alguien. Por Tomás de Cocar, “maestro del arte de Pintor, experto y bueno”, establecido en Coro, que era entonces la capital de la Provincia. Las autoridades eclesiásticas le comisionaron un retablo de Santa Ana, matrona de la villa. Siete años después, en 1609, firmaba sus obras Juan Agustín Riera, que llegó a ser Alcalde ordinario de Coro. De ese mismo siglo se conservan varias obras firmadas y de buena factura, como “La Visitación”, que se conserva en el Museo Diocesano, vecino a la Catedral de Mérida, la “Visión del Beato Alonso Rodríguez”, que está en el mismo museo merideño, el retrato de Francisco Mijares de Solórzano que está en la Casa Natal del Libertador, en Caracas, el retrato de Fray Antonio González de Acuña, que está el Palacio Arzobispal de Caracas. Hay también varias obras importantes de un pintor anónimo de El Tocuyo, de singular importancia. El Siglo XVIII, tiempo de prosperidad y de paz, en el que casi todo floreció en Venezuela, fue también un tiempo de gran progreso de las artes plásticas. Es también el tiempo en el que los pintores firman y fechas sus obras, como para economizarles dolores de cabeza a los investigadores de tiempos por venir. Francisco José de Lerma y Villegas fue un destacado artista de comienzos de ese siglo, de quien se conocen “La Sagrada Familia”, de 1719, San Antonio y el Niño”, óleo sobre madera, que perteneció a Lola Brandt de Ponte, hija del pintor Federico Brandt, y “La Virgen de la Merced”, que perteneció al Conde de San Javier. Hay que mencionar también a Fernando Álvarez Carneiro (1670-1744), José Lorenzo Zurita (C.1727-1753), y muy en especial a Juan Pedro López, hijo de padres canarios y abuelo materno de Andrés Bello. López, cuyos padres habían emigrado de Tenerife a Venezuela, fue el padre de Ana Petrona López, la esposa de Bartolomé Bello, y ambos fueron los padres de Andrés. No ha sido nada fácil seguir la pista de su desarrollo como artista, labor que emprendió Alfredo Boulton, inicialmente, y que después fue completada con las investigaciones de Carlos Duarte, uno de los más notables profesionales de esa materia en Venezuela y América. Los primeros trabajos conocidos de ese artista notable son de 1755, sobre temas religiosos: “La Virgen del Rosario”, “La Inmaculada Concepción” (que está en la Sacristía de la Catedral de Caracas), “La Venida del Espíritu Santo”, “Cristo de la caña”, etcétera. En su obra escultórica destaca la estatua de la Fe, que está en el tope de la torre de la Catedral caraqueña y que la inmensa mayoría de los caraqueños, y de los visitantes de Caracas, ignora de la manera más triste. Sobre ese tema volveremos cuando se termine este recorrido, no el de los tiempos anteriores a la Independencia, sino todo el recorrido. Hay también en la Catedral un Retablo de López que despertó la curiosidad de Arístides Rojas, que lo atribuyó a un gallego llamado Mauricio Robes y lo señaló como asociado a un personaje casi mítico, María Pérez o Maripérez, pero Boulton probó que era parte de la obra de Juan Pedro López. De eso hablaremos también pronto. Otras obras de López, estudiadas por Boulton, son: “Historia de la Virgen”, formada por diez cuadros y probablemente terminada en 1752; está en el templo de San Francisco, en Caracas, “Nuestra Señora de la Luz” (1760), “La Virgen del Rosario” (1767), “La Crucifixión” (1768), “El Padre Eterno” (1755), “San Miguel Arcángel” (1768).

(Continuará)

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