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Cover Laberintos Perán Erminy. Catalogue Fundación Provincial. Photography: Carlos Germán Rojas. Graphic composition for the documentary cover: Thaelman Urgelles

Perán Erminy
1929 - 2018


Susana Benko

To synthetize the enormous contribution of Perán Erminy to the development of the cultural history of Venezuela is a nearly impossible task. In addition to being one of the most caring and honest persons that I have known, Perán was one of those intellectuals that never fell into the sin of pride. On the contrary, being a man always ready to debate ideas and to refute more than one argument, he was nonetheless always respectful towards others. Unassuming and reserved, his mind was always working and his curiosity accompanied him to his last day. We affectionately regarded him as "our dean of art criticism in Venezuela."

Born in Barcelona, Venezuela, in 1929, from an early age he became accustomed to the intellectual and political evenings organized in his home. In 1934, the military regime of Juan Vicente Gómez arrested his father, resulting in the family moving to Maracay until his liberation, in 1935, when they decided to move to Caracas. There, he attended school and, in 1942, was admitted to the Escuela de Artes Plásticas y Aplicadas Cristóbal Rojas where he studied Pure Art and Education. There, his analytical abilities and critical reasoning became evident as he participated in a student strike that demanded the modernization of education pertaining to the latest international artistic movements. He earned a teaching degree but was expelled from the school. Then, interesting events began to occur in his life that today are part of the art history of Venezuela: he participated in artists groups that met in the so-called Barracas de Maripérez workshops and in Guaicaipuro, respectively; attended the workshop of Alberto Brandt, an irreverent artists with whom he became good friends; co-founded the Taller Libre de Arte, in 1948, and then, exiled in Paris, in 1949, studied Art and Philosophy at the École du Louvre and at the Sorbonne, attending courses imparted by Pierre Francastel, Roland Barthes, and René Huygues.

In 1950 Perán became part of Los Disidentes [The Dissidents], a group of artists with abstract-geometric tendencies. Upon his return to Venezuela in 1956, he is incarcerated for two years for opposing the dictatorship of Marcos Pérez-Jiménez. Once freed and back to Paris, in 1960, he attended the courses in Art and Philosophy imparted by Jean-Paul Sartre and Michel Foucault. Back again in Venezuela, he became a member of El Techo de la Ballena, a rebellious group formed by artists, writers, and art critics. Despite being a good visual artist, he then decided to focus entirely on art criticism and on the promotion of art.

Perán co-founded several labor-union associations like AICA (art criticism), AVAP (visual artists), and ACC (film), and directed the Museo Boggio and the Museo de Caracas. For many years he was a film critic, a controversial lecturer, and an enthusiastic interlocutor, in addition to being a curator, teacher, and author of many essays about art.

In 2011, Perán finally dared to present his first solo show. It was at the Fundación Provincial. Today, we remember him. His absence will be felt, because he was always present in the openings of exhibitions. Even during his last days.

Perán died in March of this year. He stands tall.




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