Hernando Tejada

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Hernando Tejada Sáenz
Datos generales
Nombre Hernando Tejada Sáenz
Fecha de nacimiento 01 de febrero de 1924
Nacionalidad Colombiana, Bandera de Colombia }}
Seudónimo Tejadita
Ocupación Artista
País de nacimiento Colombia, Bandera de Colombia }}
Ciudad de nacimiento Pereira
Fecha de fallecimiento 01 de junio de 1998
País de fallecimiento Colombia, Bandera de Colombia }}
Ciudad de fallecimiento Cali
Familia Lucy Tejada (Hermana)

Hernando Tejada Sáenz was an artist who was born in Pereira on February 1, 1924 and widely recognized for his varied body of work, which began with drawing and painting and transitioned towards wood and bronze sculpture in the final decades of his career. He was known as “Tejadita” due to his short stature. He was the brother of the artist Lucy Tejada, with whom he exhibited on several occasions. He received the support of art critics in the mid-20th century, and his work is so unique that it is hard to place within the trends of Colombian modern art; it is even linked to a literary avant-garde: Magical Realism. He died in Cali on June 1, 1998.


Although he spent his early years in Pereira and Manizales, Tejada lived in Cali from infancy and primarily worked and presented his art in the city, with the La Tertulia museum being a vital space for meeting his public. He studied at the Fine Arts Institute in Cali and completed his training at the School of Fine Arts in Bogotá. In the vein of the artists who traveled to tribal, primitive worlds in the first half of the 20th century in order to undergo an internal journey and renew the artistic traditions, Tejada spent a period on the islands of San Andrés and Providencia, and later along the Magdalena river and the Pacific coast, in the company of the artist Alipio Jaramillo. These journeys are mainly evinced in the first phase of his career and the mangrove series that he produced towards the end of his life.

Hernando Tejada had great prominence over the course of his career. In the 1940s he found a place in the modernist current that principally converged in Bogotá, and he formed part of the Generación de los 26, so-called for the number of artists who participated in the Contemporary Painting Exhibition at the National Museum in 1948. In the 1950s he was commissioned to create various murals in public spaces in Cali, Palmira and Bogotá with themes alluding to transport and the history of Cali and Colombia, along with others with more thematic freedom such as the one he produced for the Fine Arts faculty of the National University in the capital Bogotá. He took part in several editions of the National Colombian Artists Show, and in biennials such as those held by Coltejer in Medellín and others in Sao Paulo and Venice.

Artistic career

In the mid-1940s, Tejada arrived in Bogotá and encountered an active generation of artists that included Alejandro Obregón, Enrique Grau, Eduardo Ramírez Villamizar, Edgar Negret, Julio Abril and — of great significance for his foray into muralism — Ignacio Gómez Jaramillo. Around the 1950s, such was his reputation that he enjoyed high regard from the leading art critics of the time, including the Pole Casimiro Eiger and the Argentinian Marta Traba. In the 1960s he held various individual exhibitions and took part in some group shows, highlighting his work as a painter. Women are the central theme of his work, as shown by various series from the period. This interest persisted in the 1970s in the field of sculpture, when he began his work with wood. From this phase his “object-furniture” women stand out, which were titled with female names and dedicated to particular objects and functions. These carvings were prominent at a variety of events: the 2nd Coltejer Biennial in Medellín (1970) where he presented Sacramento, the 3rd Coltejer Biennial (1972) with Abigail, and the Venice Biennale (1982) where he exhibited Estefanía and Teresa. During the 1980s and 1990s, Tejada further explored his naturalist interests by producing a series of carvings on the subject of mangroves, Colombian flora and fauna and still lifes. During this period, he was also involved in the production of puppets and stage design for opera. In 1996 he sealed his artistic career with his donation of El Gato del Río (The Cat of the River) to the city of Cali, a large-scale bronze sculpture that today forms part of the cultural identity of the city and is one of its major tourist attractions.

Characteristics of her work

From the early output of Hernando Tejada, the critics saw in him a resistance to satisfying the tastes of the public, as well as a constant stance towards the renewal and exploration of his own interests. While during the first decades of his career he showed an interest in the Afro-descendant peoples of Colombia and lent himself to nationalist fervor with his murals, between 1960 and 1980 he devoted his efforts to the female image. In his various sculptures on this theme, analysts of his work point to a Baroque method of representation due to the marked ornamentation of the pieces; the inclusion of humor, irony and play; and an intention to call for interaction from the public with his works. Some consider this focus to be pioneering in the history of Colombian art. Although his work has been classified as pop art, due to the aforementioned characteristics, modern interpretations of his career associate him with a visual offshoot of magic realism as a result of his construction of an individual world that walks the line between reality and his imagination.

Featured works

  • 1950: Fervor (Fervor)
  • 1961: Chinchorros y Madrugada infantil (Hammocks and Child’s Early Morning)
  • 1970: Sacramento la mujer asiento (Sacramento, the Woman Seat)
  • 1972: Abigail la mujer atril (Abigail, the Woman Lectern)
  • 1982: Teresa la mujer mesa (Teresa, the Woman Table)
  • 1996: El gato del río (The Cat of the River)

Works by Hernando Tejada in the collections of the Banco de la República

Works by Hernando Tejada in the collections of the Banco de la República
Title Year Location Technique Registration number
Abigail, la mujer atril (Abigail, the Woman Lectern) 1972 ON EXHIBITION

Bogotá, Bogotá Cultural Center, Miguel Urrutia Art Museum (MAMU), permanent exhibition from the art collection

Wood sculpture AP0448
Untitled 1950 ON EXHIBITION

Bogotá, Bogotá Cultural Center, Miguel Urrutia Art Museum (MAMU), permanent exhibition of the art collection

Watercolor AP1974
Untitled Not recorded Reserve Print AP1989


  • 1924: Born in Pereira on February 1 as the third of five siblings.
  • 1940: Starts studying painting at the Fine Arts Institute in Cali.
  • 1945: Travels to Bogotá to study at the School of Fine Arts.
  • 1950: Takes part in the 8th Annual Colombian Artists Show.
  • 1953-1956: Creates the murals History of Cali and History of Transport in the city’s new train station.
  • 1958: Travels around Europe for over a year, gathering insights and experiences for this artistic work.
  • 1963: Participates in the 7th Sao Paulo Art Biennial.
  • 1965: Hold his first exhibition of wood sculptures at the La Tertulia museum.
  • 1967: Presents a series of drawings about women at the Jeremías Gallery in Cali and the Pereira Cultural Center.
  • 1976: Holds an exhibition in conjunction with his sister at the Pereira Cultural Center.
  • 1984: The Cali Chamber of Commerce presents a major retrospective show of his work.
  • 1998: Dies on June 1.
  • 2006: The Tejada family donates more than 3000 pieces of his work to the Medellín Museum of Modern Art.

See also


1. Hernando Tejada timeline

2.Dictionary of artists in Colombia


1. Fernández, Carlos (2011). Arte y realidad en Hernando Tejada (Art and Reality in Hernando Tejada). Artes La Revista, 17, p.62-73.

Art collection of the Banco de la República

External links

1.Official website of Hernando Tejada: [1]

2. Hernando Tejada (1924-1998): [2]

3.Donation from the Tejada family to the MAMM: [3]


1.Research and text: Oscar David Rodríguez, mediator of the museums and collections of the Banco de la República, for Banrepcultural.

2.Text revision and editing: Inti Camila Romero Estrada and Diana Marcela Salas Solórzano. Public and Educational Services, Art and Other Collections Unit (UAOC).