Jacques Rancière introduced the term of post-democracy, he says, to refer to a sad situation [1]: one where democracy has been boxed into the category of unrealizable or falsely promoted ideas, another utopia … post-democracy is.

“the proposition of a democracy that suppresses the difference between the people and itself and, at the same time, suppresses the SUBJECTIVE power PRODUCED BY THIS DIFFERENCE: THE POWER OF INVENTING CASES THAT DISPLAY AT THE SAME TIME THE COEXISTENCE OF EQUALITY AND INEQUALITY … ALSO THE FORMS OF EXHIBITING THE CAPABILITIES OF THE UNNAMED.[2]”

Post-democracy becomes evident in the pressures that multinational companies exert on the States; in the international trade agreements that prevent the states from implementing their own differential policies to focus only on trade; in the interchangeability of politicians and private businessmen, who constantly take turns in engaging in these opposite activities; and in the privatization of basic services such as healthcare, education and transportation, among others. All these pressures against democracy have also achieved the globalization of post-democracy. This globalization especially affects the mass media, because by being acquired by private businesses they directly transmit anti-democratic values; they continuously transmit post-democracy.

Ellsworth Kelly. Rojo, azul, verde. 1963

Now then, the works of Retórica [y] Cromática by Iván Cardona refer to post-democracy, particularly in terms of the rhetoric and chromatic coincidence of the print mass media, a coincidence that contributes to continuously undermining the subjectivity of the nameless. They are works that arise partly from statistics, and partly from post-painterly formalism [3]. The fact is that for practical reasons or simple co-optation (this matter has not been sufficiently discussed), the print media (and certain advertising) ended up appropriating the appearance of post-painterly paintings. Ultimately, in consumer societies, quick communications are indispensable in order to be able to sell assiduously. Recall that initially newspapers contained text only, but progressively during the 20th century they acquired an overwhelming visual appearance, with large institutional logos and high-definition pictures on the front page – and everywhere. This may possibility be due to a type of “democratization” of the findings of Russian constructivists and later by post-painterly artists, a desirable situation if one is an artist: the expansion of personal ideas on society until they are totally secularized, so that sooner or later they achieve in making societies “move forward” towards a libertarian spirit that is visually pleasing.


So we find that Cardona went directly to the source, to three newspapers from Bogotá, which he collected and then produced a series of works for Retórica {y} Cromática, most of which refer to supposedly anonymous values, which can be traced by making interventions that imply visual searches over a large number of issues (or sometimes specific individual issues) to arrive at the visually direct results which, as we know, increase sales. But maybe they also increase the ideology of the economic groups that own these newspapers: the republican correctness that should lead to the exclusion of discussions that involve the nameless. As a process, newspapers have increased the number of business-related discussions and propaganda, or simply publish an enormous amount of merchandise that increases comfort, or a large number of classified ads; the ever-shortening of opinion columns; the expansion of the fashion section; the treatment of liberal arts as entertainment; the migration of newspapers to the internet where they engage in visual images saturated with advertising and confusion for handling the interface, accessible only to those who have a computer and are digitally literate; etc.


Vista general de Retórica [y] Cromática.
General View of Retórica [y] Cromática.
However, all this might simply be a visual coincidence, after all, newspapers all use the same primary inks and the supposed backing –prior to reading the newspaper- of post-democracy cannot be demonstrated. The case that casts doubt, that of Voz Proletaria, because its colors tend to be whiter (due to the lack of spectacular advertising), does not necessarily mean that white promotes the inclusion of the nameless. The case is further aggravated if we take as reference the text (with the same title) that supports Cardona’s work, which has very little discussion on politics or democratic values, and very much of personal confession and tributes to his relatives. Regardless, this group of works is perfect and varied in terms of its technical resolution. In his defense, one might say that he is saying something about the present of print media by focusing only on its colors. What exactly he is saying we do not know yet. We might possibly know it in a few years if Cardona decides to make similar works and we are able to view rhetorical changes from a chromatic perspective.

Retórica [y] Cromática
Retórica [y] Cromática
Also highlights the base on which Cardona “justifies” his search. If Post-painterly Abstraction ceased to be valid in a contemporary context that demands showing at any cost the personal circumstances of the artist or the demonstration of his belonging to a given social group, or the suffering of this group, Cardona has conceived a methodological “excuse” that separates him from postmo confessionalism, even if his text comes up short in being aware of his achievement. And it is in the direction of “excuses” of this type based on statistics or digital rhetoric –among others – that leading edge international painting is moving: A global neo-formalism that shows the tensions of the current world without having to narrate them. It is exactly in this way that the work of Cardona operates.

Fernando Uhía.  MFA.



[1] Rancière, Jacques. “Democracia y Post-democracia”. In the magazine Ideas y valores #98-99. Bogotá: Universidad Nacional, 1995. Pages 23-40.  

[2] IBID.

[3] Post-painterly abstraction refers to abstract North American painting that arose shortly after Abstract Expressionism. Some of its features are to set aside the density of the surfaces of Abstract Expression in favor of plain colors, simple compositions, the primacy of optical illusionism (as opposed to traditional naturalist illusionism), all with the aim of achieving a quick and clear visual communication that requires no explanations or “statements” by the artists.  The term and systematization of these ideas were developed by Clement Greenberg in 1964, which he backed with several collective exhibitions involving at least 30 artists.   

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