Teresa Cuéllar “Teyé”
|Nombre||María Teresa Cuéllar de Montaña|
|Fecha de nacimiento||1935|
|País de nacimiento||Colombia, }}|
|Ciudad de nacimiento||Bogotá|
María Teresa Cuéllar de Montaña is a sketcher, printmaker and figurative painter who was born in Bogota in 1935. She was trained at the art schools of the National University of Colombia and the University of Los Andes, where she also studied philosophy, and she complemented her education at the Fine Arts Academy of the University of Rome. She is known in Colombia and around the world for her still lifes and prints, although since the 1990s she has focused on the landscape genre. Since the beginning of her career her work has been presented in individual and group exhibitions in museums and galleries in various countries, and some of her pieces are part of the collections of museums in Colombia and the rest of the world.
“Teyé” is the artistic name that Teresa Cuéllar chose in order to abbreviate her signature when it was necessary to include her married name. At the suggestion of Fernando Botero, with whom she began to interact at the age of 22, she thought of ways of making her name “visually valid” and found an identity in the memories of one of her childhood nicknames. Her relationship with art began in childhood with the practice of drawing, and was strengthened through academic training in art academies and private classes. Since her youth, she was widely acknowledged on the Colombian art circuit, participating in international group exhibitions and contests, and even holding retrospective shows from the first decade of her career. She is held up in Colombian art as one of the most important painters, sketchers and graphic artists of the second half of the 20th century. In the 1950s, through Fernando Botero and Gloria Zea,, Teyé met the writer Antonio Montaña Mariño (1932-2013) and married him after a year of exchanging correspondence. In a relationship of mutual collaboration, Teyé participated as an illustrator in several publishing projects related to Colombian and Spanish cuisine that were developed by Montaña: La comida en la edad de oro española (Food in the Spanish Golden Age; 1974), Cocina cundinamarquesa (Cundinamarca Cuisine; 1980) and La dicha de cocinar (The Joy of Cooking; 1994). In turn, Montaña provided commentary on his wife’s work for various exhibitions in museums and galleries, and on the career of other artists such as Hernando Tejada, a close friend to whom the writer dedicated one of his books. Teresa Cuéllar’s contributions to the cultural sphere transcend her artistic work. She aided in the reconstruction of an important part of the history of art in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Colombia, by keeping for many years a series of albums belonging to the Colombian painter and printmaker Ricardo Moros Urbina (1865-1942) that contain large amounts of notes, drawings, studies and prints. The donation of this heritage to the Colombian General Archive enabled Paula Jimena Matiz and María Constanza Villalobos to provide the country with a complete investigation into the work of Moros Urbina in a publication by the District Institute of Cultural Heritage (IDPC). Additionally, as a result of the donation, in 2019 the General Archive opened an exhibition to the public entitled “Dos cronistas de Bogotá. Un encuentro histórico” (Two chroniclers of Bogotá: a historic encounter), which displayed various texts by José María Cordovez Moure (1835-1918) in juxtaposition with drawings by Moros Urbina recreated by the artist Angie Vega on the walls and windows of the exhibition.
Upon completing her university education, Teresa Cuéllar became involved in the Bogota art scene, practicing painting and exhibiting her work in national and young artists’ shows. Between 1960 and 1961 she carried out a specialization at the University of Rome, and on her return to Colombia was responsible for giving drawing classes at the University of Los Andes, where she taught for 8 years. From this period her interest in still lifes stands out, as made evident by various individual exhibitions in galleries in Bogotá, Cali, Medellín and Barranquilla. Exhibition titles such as Naturalezas vivas (Living still lifes), Acercamientos vivos (Living approaches) and Neobodegones (Neo-still lifes) hinted at a novel way of tackling still lifes through the management of color, format and technique. Without neglecting her work with still lifes, from the 1970s Cuéllar featured in exhibitions on Colombian sketchers and Hispano-American printmakers. It was a time when many artists were expressing great enthusiasm for printmaking techniques, and producing their creations in graphic workshops in cities such as Cali and Bogotá. During this decade, Teyé took part in the graphic arts biennials that took place in Cali and entered the MoMA collection in 1973 with the lithograph “La niña de papel” (The paper girl). Around the mid-1980s, Teyé was mentioned as one of the greats of Colombian art, and as one of the leading female exponents of painting in the country. She maintained a healthy and consistent rate of production until the 1990s, and at the start of the decade she moved to a family farm in Chia, a municipality that borders with the capital Bogotá, where she would develop a new focus on landscapes. Her landscapes, such as those exhibited in early 2014 in the Débora Arango Hall of the Economic Culture Fund, portray the colors and textures that usually go unnoticed by the inhabitants of the Bogotá plain. This work to represent her environment has developed in tandem with her family’s restoration and revitalization of the plot of land where the farm is located, which for many years was used as a quarry and left in an advanced state of erosion.
Characteristics of her work
Despite the 1950s witnessing the growth of abstractionism and expressionism in Colombian art, Teresa Cuellar decided to focus on figurative art. While she started out with abstract figuration, her language gradually advanced towards naturalism. According to Antonio Montaña, her husband and main commentator, Teyé has always painted what lays before her eyes and — judging by the way she expresses herself regarding her own style of working — her creative process resembles that of impressionist artists, due to her handing a starring role to light and atmosphere. Teyé’s work has been characterized by the use of spatulas and the direct manipulation of oil paints with fingers instead of paintbrush. Her still lifes imbue fruit, vegetables and flowers, which she studies in great detail, with life and uniqueness. The floral arrangements that she has captured in her prints reflect methods that have been compared to those of Alberto Durero.
- 1973: La niña de papel (The paper girl). Colección del Museo de Arte Moderno de Nueva York MoMA.
Works by Teresa Cuéllar Teyé in the collections of the Banco de la República
- 1935: Born in Bogotá.
- 1959: Takes part in the Andrés de Santamaría Painters’ Show at the Universidad de América in Bogotá. During this decade she studies fine art at the National University and the University of Los Andes, and marries Antonio Montaña Mariño.
- 1960: Participates in the Colombian Artists Show. Travels to Italy to study at the Fine Arts Academy of the University of Rome.
- 1962: Joins the Fine Arts school of the University of Los Andes as a drawing teacher, a position she holds until 1970.
- 1963: : Forms part of the exhibition El siglo XX y la pintura en Colombia (the 20th century and painting in Colombia) in the National Museum of Colombia.
- 1965: Chosen to represent Colombia at the Paris Youth Biennial.
- 1966: Inaugurates the exhibition Neobodegones at the Bogotá Museum of Modern Art.
- 1969: Included in the exhibition Adquisiciones (Acquisitions) at the Luis Ángel Arango Library in Bogotá.
- 1970: Presents the show Obra selecta (Selected works) at the Luis Ángel Arango library.
- 1972: Her exhibition 10 años de su obra (10 years of her work) passes through the Gregorio Vásquez Hall of the National Library of Colombia and the Cartagena Museum of Modern Art.
- 1973: Participates in the exhibition Dibujantes colombianos (Colombian sketchers) at the Luis Ángel Arango library, in the 2nd Graphic Arts Biennial at the La Tertulia Art Museum in Cali, and in the show 20 grabadores hispanoamericanos (20 Hispano-American printmakers) at the Bogotá Museum of Modern Art.
- 1975: Takes part in the American Graphic Arts Biennial in Cali.
- 1978: Exhibits her work in the Artists from Colombia show by The Art Society of the International Monetary Foundation in Washington, United States
- 1983: Her work is displayed in cultural events in the United States and Mexico.
- 1985: Presents the show Naturalezas Vivas at the La Tertulia Gallery Museum in Cali.
- 1989: “Great Colombian sketchers of the 20th century” exhibition at the Banco de la República
- 1996: Included in the exhibition “Master Word of Latin American Painting and Arts” at Christie’s Gallery in New York, an institution she has maintained a close relationship with for years.
- 2000: The exhibition “Selected and recent works” opens to the public at the gallery of the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce.
- 2004-2007-2011: Produces work for the Animarte, Equusarte and Azularte initiatives by the Fundación Corazón Verde, which has used auctions to install various sculptures in public spaces in Bogotá.
- 2014: Presents a selection of her landscape work in the Débora Arango Hall of the Gabriel García Márquez Cultural Center in Bogotá.
- Interview with Gloria Valencia for the program Correo Especial, broadcast on April 22, 1992. Director: Rodrigo Castaño. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VH676Px_r64
- Interview with the artist for the informative culture and entertainment platform “En órbita” on February 4, 2014, whose content has been broadcast through RTVC public channels such as Señal Colombia, Señal Radiónica and Señal Radio Colombia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T391FTy6iYM
- Teyé’s curriculum vitae in The Americas Collection, Private & Corporate Fine Arts Dealers: http://www.americascollection.com/bios/TEYE_CURRICULUM.pdf
- Matiz, P. y Villalobos, M. C. (2018). Ricardo Moros Urbina. Imágenes de una Bogotá en cambio 1882-1911 (Images from a changing Bogotá 1882-1911). Bogotá: District Institute of Cultural Heritage (IDPC). Available at: https://issuu.com/patrimoniobogota/docs/moros_urbina1_web
- Montaña, A. (2010). Teyé y la mano del oso (Teyé and the bear’s paw). Poliantea, vol.6, n°10, p.127-135.
Art collection of the Banco de la República
- Visit the artwork Still Life to Teresa Cuellar in Colección de arte
- Visit the artwork Untitled to Teresa Cuellar in Colección de arte
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 Salas, Public and Educational Services department, Art and Other Collections Unit (UAOC).