1930 Juan Calzadilla was born in Altagracia de Orituco on May 16. He is son of Félix R. Calzadilla Paz Castillo and María R. Álvarez de Calzadilla. He is the second of eight brothers, and comes from a family of farmers settled in the mountains of Guatopo at the beginning of the 19th century.
1936-1946 He studied primary and high school until the 4th year at Ángel Moreno School and at the Federal College, that later received the name of Secondary School Ramón Buenahora, in his hometown.
1950 Living in Caracas, he graduated in Humanities at the Secondary School Juan Vicente González and immediately started to study in the National Pedagogical Institute in the Spanish and Literature mention. He interrupts his career after being arrested by agents of the National Security during a protest against the dictator Marcos Pérez Jiménez.
1951 He enrolled in the Faculty of Humanities of the Central University of Venezuela to study Philosophy. Before the closure of the university, he moved to his hometown in order to work in the fields and to start clandestine political activity.
1953 He gets the first prize in the poetry contest of the World Youth Festival with his text La torre de los pájaros. That prize was sponsored by the Venezuelan Association of Journalists. The jury was composed by José Ramón Medina, Ida Gramcko and Pedro Francisco Lizardo.
1952 He founds the Library Antonio J. Chacín in Altagracia de Orituco while he intervenes in the political campaign of the opposition parties against the re-election of Marcos Pérez Jiménez through a call by the government.
1954 Publishes the booklet Primeros poemas on its own initiative in Ediciones Mar Caribe, a collection directed by the poet Vicente Gerbasi in Caracas.
1955 His poemLa torre de los pájaros appears in theCuadernos Cabriales of the Ateneo de Valencia. He begins attending the School of Plastic Arts of Caracas and writes his first comments on plastic artists and halls for newspapers of Caracas.
1956 He starts a column of literature and art in the newspaper El Universal de Caracas, and he will write that column for the next two years. During this year, he also begins to collaborate in the newspaper El Nacional and the Revista Nacional de Cultura.
1958 Los herbarios rojos appears in his care. It’s a pamphlet of the parasurrealist language edited by the Industrial Printing, in Caracas.
End of the dictatorship. He receives appointment as Head of the Department of Cultural Extension of the Miranda State Government.
1959 He starts to work as editor of the Visual magazine in the Museum of Fine Arts, in the new team directed by Miguel Arroyo and thanks to the recommendation of Alejandro Otero.
1961 He intervenes in the founding of the avant-garde protest group El techo de la ballena and organizes, along with Daniel González, the first informal art halls that take place in Maracaibo and Caracas.
1962 His book of poems Dictado por la jauría, in an edition of El techo de la ballena is published. He presents «Coloidales», his first exhibition of drawings, at the Ulises gallery in Caracas.
1963 The Ministry of Education edits his Pintores venezolanos compilation, in which he gathers essays on Reverón, Brandt, Ferdinandov, Castillo and other masters.
1967 He publishes Las contradicciones sobrenaturales, an edition of El techo de la ballena. He enters the Central University of Venezuela as part of the Culture Department, attached to the Department of Cultural Extension. He moves to Maracaibo, hired by the University of Zulia (LUZ) to lead the Department of Cultural Extension of the Directorate of Culture.
1969 Conducts its second exhibition, at the bookshop-gallery Logos of Víctor Fuenmayor. Ciudadano sin fin is published by Monte Ávila Editores, Caracas.
1970 Living in Mérida, he works as a modern and Venezuelan art professor at the Faculty of Humanities of the Universidad de Los Andes (ULA). He participates in the organization of the Congress of Cabimas. He creates the theater piece Escóndete cadaver, where the murder of the student Rosas Piña in the hands of the police officers is narrated.
1972 He returns to Caracas and begins the publication of a series of monographs on Venezuelan art, the first of which are dedicated to Federico Brandt and Arturo Michelena.
1974 He founds and directs the Art Museum «Emilio Boggio» attached to the Municipal Council of the Federal District.
1976 He directs the Poetry Workshop of Simón Bolívar University and is co-founder of the editorial group «La gaveta ilustrada» (1976-1978) in this house of studies, characterized by its experimental management.
1978 His book of poems, Oh Smog appears in the Collection Equinoccio of the Simón Bolívar University. He enters the National Art Gallery (GAN) as an Assistant Director.
1982 He publishes Táctica de Vigía, Ediciones Oxígeno. Caracas-Bilbao, Spain.
1993-1994 A retrospective of his plastic work «Aventuras de lo real», Museum of Fine Arts. He is honored in the Literature Biennial «Mariano Picón Salas», in Mérida. He attends festivals and international poetry events in Colombia, Argentina, Cuba, Belgium and Bolivia. He receives the poetry mention prize «Francisco Lazo Martí» for his book «Minimales», in the annual contest sponsored by Monte Ávila Editores.
1996 He receives the National Prize of Plastic Arts, awarded by the National Council of Culture (CONAC), for his work as a draftsman, critic and researcher in the area of plastic arts.
1999 Launches his controversial book Diario sin sujeto, in publication of the editorial workshop «El pez soluble», where he was the founder along with Belkys Arredondo in Caracas.
2004 He attends the 26th. Sao Paulo Biennial, Brazil, as the only representative of Venezuela. His poetry collection Aforemas and the collection of anecdotes Armando Reverón, voces y demonios are published by Monte Ávila Editores. He travels to Santiago de Chile invited by the Museum of Contemporary Art where his works were exhibited before, the same year, in the 26th. Sao Paulo Biennial.
2005 The publisher «Eloisa Cartonera», from Buenos Aires, publishes his book Manual para inconformistas He is invited to the International Festival of the poetry magazine «Prometeo», in Medellin and to the «Compartir el mundo» Festival, organized by the Poetry University in Santiago de Chile. This same year, he presents his exhibition «Historia en dos ciudades».
2009 The retrospective exhibition named Poética visiva y continua is presented at the Art Center La Estancia (PDVSA, Caracas), as part of the tribute that the author receives in the 9th. World Poetry Festival in which he participates as a special guest.
2010 The book Libro de las poéticas appears edited by the Fundación para la Cultura y las Artes (FUNDARTE). It is an anthological essay that brings together fragments, aphoristic thoughts, and reflections on the exercise and criticism of poetry written by the author in different stages of his life, unpublished or collected in previous books, from where they were taken. The prologue is written by the Colombian poet Juan Manuel Roca and the cover is made using a calligraphic work by the author.
2011 In March this year, he was appointed director of the National Art Gallery, the maximum institution dedicated to the conservation, study and dissemination of Venezuelan art. Juan Calzadilla was founding deputy director of this institution in 1976, on the occasion when it was created and put under the direction of Manuel Espinoza. In his position as director, Calzadilla works until 2013, when he presents his resignation.
The poetic anthology Forms in fuga comes to light, in the Colección Clásica (Classical collection) of the Biblioteca Ayacucho. It is a poetic anthology whose edition was in charge of the critic and poet Arturo Gutiérrez Plaza, author of the selection, prologue and notes. The work covers a trajectory ranging from Primeros poemas (1954) to Vela de armas (2007), through a chronological account that follows, step by step, the same order in which the books on which the selection is based were published. This was an edition of 3000 copies. He presents the poem Pórtico para un eclipse, written in co-authorship with Beira Lisboa, and directed by Roberto Linares during the Theater Festival of Caracas organized by Fundarte.
2015 Individual exhibition at Punto de Arte Gallery, in Los Palos Grandes, Caracas, where he exhibits 38 drawings and paintings of different stages and formats. He also offers a seminar and poetic reading for visitors of the Gallery during four sessions.
The book Poesía por mandato, personal anthology, published by Monte Ávila Editores Latinoamericana is published. It is a compilation that gathers, according to the author, representative texts of his main books launched between 1978 and 2012. For the cover, a drawing by the author was used. It was an edition of 2000 copies.
The book Retrato de un artista moderno, a poetic breviary, is published by Fondo Editorial de las Artes (FUNDARTE) in the care of Héctor A. González V. with a drawing and black and white vignettes in the cover by Juan Calzadilla. It was an edition of 1000 copies.
This same year, his book Editor de crepúsculos is published by the Fundación Editorial El Perro y la Rana, an edition of 3000 copies. The work collects great part of the aphoristic production that the author maintained unpublished or that had been partially collected in previous collection of poems. The cover drawing is created by the author.
The Fondo Editorial de las Artes (FUNDARTE) launches the book Silabario del incierto, which contains a set of 36 interviews, about different topics made by writers and journalists to Juan Calzadilla over the period from 1984 to 2014. The selection and notes are made by the poet and artist Franklin Fernandez, who, at the same time, is the author of some of the interviews that appear in the book, presented at the Caracas Book Fair in 2014. Silabario del incierto abounds in first-hand information about poetry and visual arts during the period from 1954 to 2014.
2016 He is a special guest at the 16th International Poetry Fair of Buenos Aires, Argentina, held on April this year during the International Book Fair of Buenos Aires.
In June he participates in the 22nd. International Poetry Festival of Genoa, Italy, in which he presents a bilingual selection of his work with the title Musa de asfalto in its Italian version translated by the Venezuelan novelist Mayela Barragán and in an edition sponsored by the host institution of the biennial, which directs the poet Claudio Pozzani. During the event, the work Asuntos del trópico for guitar, flute and soprano, musicalized poems by Juan Calzadilla, by Venezuelan composer Luis Ernesto Gómez, was premiered. It obtains the National Book Award of Venezuela.
2017 He is selected representative artist of the Venezuelan pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennial, with his exhibition Formas escapándose del marco, which opened on Friday 12/05.
In November, he receives the National Literature Prize for his more than 50 years of literary career in the country. El libro de Juan is published in Colombia, with the selection by Larry Mejía and edited by Ediciones Cosa Nostra and Inkside-Poesía.