Liliana Angulo Cortés

Astrid Liliana Angulo Cortés (b. 1974) is a visual artist from Bogotá who majored in sculpture at the National University of Colombia and has Master's degree in arts from the University of Illinois, Chicago. Her artistic production encompasses media such as sculpture, photography, video, collective interventions, installation and performance, and it explores the representation of Black women in contemporary culture from the perspective of gender, race and identity.

Liliana has been a researcher, educator, manager, curator and is a member of various groups that support the struggles of Afro-Colombian people. In her projects, she has explored archives to trace the presence of Afro people in Colombia and unearth instances of resistance, reparation and anti-racist actions in order to give a picture of the power relations the imbue visual imagery, territory, race and black women’s bodies. 

This visual essay (in English translation below) records moments in the life trajectory and the work of the master Rodrigo Barrientos (1931-2003), an Afro-Colombian painter and engraver from Antioquia, who was a contemporary of other well-known figures of the modernist period in Colombia (1920-1950), such as Fernando Botero, Omar Rayo and Jorge Cárdenas.

During the antiracist curatorship carried out by Liliana Angulo at the Museo de Antioquia, she came across the painting "Black Family" which stood out for its handling of colour, the  aestheticism of the human figures and the brush strokes, and the impressionist influence that underlay the deliberate handling of technique and distanced itself from the exotic representations of Blackness in Colombia. This work, however, remained “unknown”.

After critically reviewing the practices of power associated with archives, collections and repositories of memory, and questioning the Museum as a space of power that visibilises and invisibilises, preserves and forgets, it was discovered that the painting belonged to an Afro-Antioquian artist, the master Rodrigo Barrientos.

Liliana Angulo's work seeks: a) to bring to light the work of Rodrigo Barrientos; and b) to construct a retrospective of the life of Barrientos using various records and archives (travel documents, portraits by other painters that refer to Barrientos, immigration records, etc.), in order to show how it intersects with the racial thinking and the mechanisms of racialization of the time, which had the effect of obliterating Afro works and lives in Colombian art.

This visual essay reviews and reconstructs the mobility of this Afro-Colombian painter to explore the effects of racialization on the circulation and recognition of his life and work.