Colombian modern art pioneer Lucy Tejada died at 91 on Wednesday morning after a 15-day stay in a Cali hospital.
According to her son, sculptor Alejandro Valencia, “she had many complications, her heart was weakened and she lost that battle.” In the end, it was Tejada’s decision not to go on life support.
Tejeda was part of the Colombian generation of artists that helped define the modern art genre throughout the 50s-70s. She was most active during the 1950s, painting modern “lyrical and dramatic situations” in an ideal and dream-like world usually only inhabited by women and children. By the 1980s, she slowed down and stopped exhibiting her work because of her poor eyesight.
The Pereira-born artist was surrounded by a family of artists. Both her brother and sister were artists, as was her husband, painter Antonio Valencia.
Tejada won several awards throughout her life including the Culture Ministry’s Medal of Cultural Merit in 2007 for her 50 years of contribution to Colombian art.
Culture Minister Mariana Garces said Tejada “was one of the few women who reached a place next to the pioneers of modern art in Colombia and remained active and independent for decades insisting on cultivating, through her work, the respect for nature that she saw as the harmonic measure of the universe.”
Jaime Ceron, the visual arts advisor of the Ministry of Culture, praised “her ability to articulate an anecdotal situation to a pictorial projection structured independently from its own characteristics and peculiarities, which is precisely one of the determinant aspects of artistic modernity. However, her artistic eye continually emphasized a strong difference in the face of the way her male counterparts understood art and the pictorial practice”
Upon receiving the Ministry of Culture’s award in 2007 Tejada said that “above all things, what I want most is for this country. And above all things I want salvation. And I want that we can talk in Colombia without fear of death. It seems that the country had a black blanket and we should all help to save [Colombia].”