The show comes at an important time not only in Calero’s artistic career but also in the cultural arc of her home country. As the strength of the socialist Chavistas’ grip on the country’s political life has waned since Hugo Chavez’s death and during the subsequent tenure of President Nicolás Maduro, culture has been a site of increased government intervention. “The government is trying to invent an identity for the country,” says Calero. “They closed the university of art, fired all the professors, and are now teaching the students to make propaganda art.”
The limited number of artists from Venezuela that have made it into the art historical canon haven’t been outside of this reach. “Take [Armando] Reverón, for example. I feel so bad for this guy. If he could see what the government is doing to his work, he would die again.” Calero’s efforts may not be able to change the cultural climate back home in Venezuela, but they could very well help chart a corrective course for those elsewhere. Class, take your seats.