Violence is a constant theme in the work of Omar Rayo. In "The absent hero", two red teardrops, suggestive of blood, frame the embossed image of a pair of gloves. Here, Rayo uses irony and absurdity to reflect on the theme of absence. The connection between a personal item and the absence of a heroic figure—a boxer, to whom the title alludes—invites the viewer to consider the embodied quality of objects and the affective quality of their emptied presence. One black lace is inserted onto the print, emphasizing the material fact of the other’s absence. Rayo could very well be referencing the death of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, which had taken place only two years earlier during a guerilla action in Bolivia. Yet the print could also reflect on the crimes committed during a period of gruesome confrontation between paramilitary forces of the Colombian Liberal Party and the Colombian Conservative Party, known as La Violencia, which lasted until 1958.

This text was created in collaboration with the University of Maryland Department of Art History & Archaeology and written by Patricia Ortega-Miranda.


  • Title: El héroe ausente
  • Creator: Omar Rayo
  • Date Created: 1969
  • Location Created: Colombia
  • Physical Dimensions: 30 in. x 22 3/4 in.
  • Class: 2-dimensional
  • Medium: intaglio on paper (AP)

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