Karl Stengel at the Museo Bolivariano de Arte Contemporáneo of Santa Marta, Colombia

Presented by the Fundación Museo Bolivariano de Arte Contemporáneo of Santa Marta, Colombia, in collaboration with The Stengel Collection in Florence, Italy

November 29, 2018 – February 17, 2019

Santa Marta, Colombia – From drawing to metaphor, an exhibition of twenty-six drawings by the late Hungarian artist Karl Stengel (1925-2017), will be on view at the Museo Bolivariano de Arte Contemporáneo in Santa Marta, Colombia from November 29, 2018 to February 17, 2019.  Zarita Abelló de Bonilla, Director of the Museum, expressed her desire to host this exhibition after visiting the Stengel Collection at the Palazzo Rosselli del Turco in Florence. This is the first exhibition of Stengel’s work in Colombia.

Produced over a span of forty years, between 1977 and 2016, the works in this exhibition demonstrate Stengel’s sustained interest in figuration, which prevails over abstract expressionism. Made in various mediums, including pen, pencil, watercolour, and oil pastel, there are even several examples here of Stengel drawing on the pages of books, tearing leaves from encyclopedias, atlases, and even his own catalogues. In these works, Stengel explored passion and the human condition, setting out imaginary dialogues in his scenes set in places like taverns or brothels. His subjects were drawn from his own life experiences, his travels, and his innate curiosity. They were also inspired by his passion for literature and music, including the work of authors such as Bukowski, Blaise Cendrars, Beckett, Jorge Borges, Yvan Goll, Tabucchi, and Giuseppe Ungaretti, and also from composers and musicians such as Rachmaninov, Stravinskij, Liszt, and Pollini.

Born in 1925 in Neusatz, territory of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, Stengel’s life was marked by tragic events, including time spent as a prisoner of war in a Russian camp in Siberia. His skill as a draughtsman was recognized by an officer who, after seeing him drawing with a piece of charcoal on a cement bag, gave him paper and pencil to make portraits of the officer and his colleagues. Stengel commenced formal art training at the Akademie der Schönen Künste after fleeing to Germany in 1956, where he lived for most of the rest of his life, while travelling extensively. Stengel held exhibitions around the world, including in the United States, Norway, Romania, Poland, France, Spain and Mexico.

When asked about his work, Stengel remarked “people have been used to see something recognizable or understandable in a painting…..It should be like music: if something disturbs you, then you don’t have to approve of it or like it, if you feel good listening to it then you approve of it, but it is personal, for you.

The artworks in From drawing to metaphor have been kindly loaned by Camilla Stengel and The Stengel Collection.


About the Stengel Collection

The Stengel Collection promotes the work of the late Hungarian artist Karl Stengel (1925-2017). In 2017, the permanent collection of Karl Stengel’s artwork opened in Palazzo Rosselli del Turco in Florence, Italy. Hundreds of works, including drawings and paintings, are exhibited on rotation, and viewing is by appointment only. The Stengel Collection also hosts other international artists and cultural events.



About the Museo Bolivariano de Arte Contemporáneo

The Museo Bolivariano de Arte Contemporáneo opened in 1986 within the grounds of the San Pedro Alejandrino estate on the initiative of Colombian artist Armando Villegas, with the support of the local authorities and the then President of the Republic, Belisario Betancur. The aim was to integrate the Bolivarian countries (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Panama and Venezuela) through art, as a tribute to the Liberator of Nations, Simón Bolívar.



Exhibition details

Dates: Thursday 29th November 2018 – Sunday 17th February 2019

Location: Sala Hernando del Villar del Museo Bolivariano de Arte Contemporáneo. Av. del Libertador, Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino, Santa Marta, (MAG), Colombia

Hours: Monday to Sunday, 9am-5pm. December 24th and 31st 9am – 1pm. Closed January 1st.

Entrance: Adults 15,000 COP, children 13,000 COP, foreigners 21,000 COP


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