Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

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    Synopsis

    In "A propósito de la pintura en el Perú," Peruvian poet and painter César Moro critiques the state of painting in Peru, rejecting recent trends toward indigenismo [indigenism], the depiction of indigenous subject matter, and references to indigenous visual culture in art. According to Moro indigenist artworks are not intended to vindicate indigenous Peruvians, which he considers an unattainable goal. These artists instead depict indigenous Peruvians as idealized figures or as oddities in paintings intended for purchase by the upper classes. Moro argues that these indigenist works represent a premature rejection of the more developed traditions of European art and culture. He attributes the lack of development in Latin American art partially to the influence of Spanish culture and language, which he claims have been in a state of constant stagnation since the Golden Age. He also cites the effect of the conquest on the destruction of local indigenous culture that can no longer be retrieved. According to Moro, indigenist art and literature do not seek to effect the future revitalization of indigenous communities, but indigenist works instead craft an archetype of the noble and picturesque indigenous people of the past, ignoring the actual plight and degradation of contemporary indigenous people.

    Annotations

    César Moro is the pseudonym of Peruvian Surrealist poet and painter Alfredo Quíspez Asín (1903–1956), who was born in Lima. In 1923 Quíspez Asín changed his name to César Moro, after the name of a character created by Spanish writer Ramón Gómez de la Serna. In 1925, he moved to Paris where he integrated himself into André Breton’s Surrealist movement, becoming a contributor to the journal, Surréalisme au Service de la Révolution. Moro had his first painting exhibitions in 1925 and 1926; both were favorably received by critics. In 1933, he returned to Lima where he and Emilio A. Westphalen organized the first South American exhibition of Surrealism in 1935 at the Academia Alcedo in Lima. He moved to Mexico in 1940, where he and Westphalen edited the literary review, El uso de la palabra. Along with Wolfgang Paalen and André Bretón, Moro organized the Fourth International Exhibition of Surrealism at the Galería de Arte Mexicano, but in 1944, he publically disassociated himself from the Surrealist movement. His publications include Le château de grisou (1943), Lettre d'amour (1944), Trafalgar Square (1954), Amour á mort (1957), La tortuga ecuestre (1958), and Los anteojos de azufre (1958). Moro’s article, "A propósito de la pintura en el Perú,” published in El Uso de la Palabra in 1939, reflects the significant backlash that occurred among avant-garde artists against indigenist themes in art.