Portrait of Delfina Bernal

The painter and mixed-media conceptual artist Delfina Bernal was born in Barranquilla, a city on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, in 1941. In 1964 she obtained a bachelor's degree in fine arts from the Universidad del Atlántico, where she studied with the Colombian master Alejandro Obregón (1920– 1992). Some years later, in 1970, she received a master's degree from the Parsons School of Design in New York, where she studied etching with the American artist Ben Bianchi (b. 1934). During the 1970s she and Álvaro Herazo (1942–1988), Ida Esbra (1929–2009), Eduardo Hernández (b. 1950), Fernando Cepeda, and Víctor Sánchez joined Grupo 44, which promoted conceptual and performance art in Colombia. She later became a member of a larger collective, Grupo Salgar, and also contributed illustrations to a supplement of the newspaper Diario del Caribe. Bernal is acknowledged as having been part of the generation of artists who began to develop personal work that made reference to the new influences of international art—more specifically, to North American art of the post-World War II period, when the cultural center had shifted from Europe to the United States—as well as to the impact of mass media. For instance, in her work Declaración de amor a Jeff Perrone (Declaration of love for Jeff Perrone, 1979), Bernal took a series of nude photographs that show her taking a bath while reading Artforum; in the second to last photograph is a love letter dedicated to Jeff Perrone, a critic for the publication. Prior to this action, Bernal had asked Perrone permission to publish her translations of some of his reviews. The critic had agreed if she paid him one hundred dollars for each text. Her response to Perrone's transactional attitude was to "repay" him with the love letter and eroticized photos. Much of the inspiration for Bernal's work is anchored in her native Barranquilla. In her most recent series the artist combined photos of her childhood with illustrations made by her grandfather General Luis Alfredo Bernal for a book by Alfonso Fuenmayor.

—Marcela Guerrero 

Selected Exhibitions

1963 Galería de Arte Contemporáneo, Barranquilla, Colombia

1965 Variaciones alrededor de un florero, Galería de Arte Contemporáneo, Barranquilla, Colombia

1972 Women's Interart Center, New York

2007 The Legacy of Obregón, Museo de Antropología, Universidad del Atlántico, Barranquilla, Colombia

2013 Digital Prints, Museo de Antropología, Universidad del Atlántico, Barranquilla, Colombia

Selected Bibliography

Barrios, Álvaro. La fotografía como documento en el arte conceptual de Barranquilla. Barranquilla, Colombia: Galería Banco Central Hipotecario, 1981.

Bernal, Delfina. "Esta soy yo: Delfina Bernal." El Tiempo (Bogotá), November 20, 1963.

Cifuentes, Ricardo. "Artistas del Caribe colombiano: Delfina Bernal." YouTube video, 24:53. Posted by Ricardo Cifuentes, May 21, 2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CORir7haViI.

Jaramillo, Carmen María. Fisuras del arte moderno en Colombia. Bogotá: Alcaldía Mayor de Bogotá, 2012.

———. Mujeres entre líneas: Una historia en clave de educación, arte y género. Bogotá: Museo Nacional de Colombia, 2015.