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Franklin Urteaga conducted this lengthy interview with Julia Codesido on the occasion of her recent exhibitions overseas. Referring to the first of these, at the recently inaugurated Palacio de Bellas Artes (Mexico City, 1935), Urteaga notes the admiration her work prompted among internationally renowned painters such as José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and Rufino Tamayo. “There, in the cradle of Indian-American art (…), where the mold has been broken in both political and artistic revolutions, Julia Codesido (…) showed that revolutionary painting is also being produced in Peru, with no regard for outdated aesthetic canons.” Urteaga writes that Codesido scored another success, this time in the eyes of the New York press, with her exhibition at the Delphic Studios, in New York City, in 1936. In both cities, then, Codesido’s work was very highly regarded. Urteaga mentions the spirit of renewal in North American art, paying particular attention to works by Jean Charlot (in Mexico), and Royle and Georgia O’Keeffe (in the United States). He draws attention to the interest in artistic culture and the desire for renewal and progress in the arts in North America; but fears that, since Peru is a country with no tradition or spiritual unity, it would be difficult to enthuse the public. Codesido, for her part, has high praise for the Mexican government’s commitment to the country’s artistic development through the Dirección de Bellas Artes, a department of the Secretaría de Educación Pública. She also acknowledges the importance of the Mexican revolution, and criticizes Rivera’s slide into intellectual painting: “His art no longer reaches nor moves the masses,” she says, as compared to what Orozco and Siqueiros are doing.


Franklin Urteaga interviews Julia Codesido and they talk about her exhibitions at the Palacio de Bellas Artes (Mexico, 1935) and Delphic Studios (New York, 1936). 


Unlike her companions, Julia Codesido embraced indigenism as her point of departure on a journey of personal growth that took her—in her later years—to the very threshold of abstraction, combining a “visual discovery of the country with the inexorable influx of modernity” [Wuffarden, Luis Eduardo. Julia Codesido (1938–1979): muestra antológica. (Lima: CCPUCP, 2004)]. Her development as an artist can be explained by her family’s migration to Europe in the early twentieth century, where she witnessed the evolution of the artistic avant-garde. Back in Lima she first took classes at the painter Teófilo Castillo’s studio, and then attended the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes once it opened in 1919. When she had her first exhibition at the Academia Nacional de Música Alcedo (Lima, 1929) she was described as an artist with a “preference for the vernacular.” But she already stood out because of her artistic nature and her ability to combine color and design in her expressive style. In 1931 she became a professor at ENBA, but after her second solo show, consisting of far more complex paintings, her artistic ambition prompted her to quit academia. Despite her interest in the living culture of Peru, her style cannot quite be pigeon-holed into an ethnographic category. In 1935, as one of the first artists to have an exhibition at the opening of the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, she took her place on the international stage. The recognition her painting received from Mexican muralists opened doors to the North American market, where she exhibited at the Delphic Studios gallery in New York (1936) and the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco (1937). 


[As complementary reading about Julia Codesido, see the following articles in the ICAA digital archive: by Carmen Saco “Disciplina y sentido cósmico en los cuadros de Julia Codesido” (doc. no. 1136583) and “Notas de arte: Exposición de pintura Julia Codesido” (doc. no. 1136647); by Juan Puppo “El arte moderno de Julia Codesido” (doc. no. 1136567); by Carlos Raygada “La exposición de Julia Codesido” (doc. no. 1141261); by Raúl María Pereira “La exposición de Julia Codesido” (doc. no. 1141245); by Carlos Solari (under the pseudonym “Don Quijote”) “La exposición de la señorita Julia Codesido” (doc. no. 1147891); by Clodoaldo López Merino (under the pseudonym “EGO”) “Exposición de pintura de Julia Codesido” (doc. no. 1147874); (anonymous) “Impresiones de Julia Codesido después de su expos. en N. York” (doc. no. 1141277); by Aquiles Ralli “Julia Codesido y Sabogal son buenos pintores” (doc. no. 1150882); by J. C. M. “La exposición de Julia Codesido en la Academia Alzedo [sic]” (doc. no. 1141179); and by Augusto Aguirre Morales “La obra pictórica de Julia Codesido” (doc. no. 1141196). See also the letter written by the faculty and students of the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes, cosigned by Codesido, to the then-president of Peru Manuel Prado Ugarteche, asking that José Sabogal be reinstated as director of the school (doc. no. 1140784)].

Gabriela Germaná Roquez
Museo de Arte de Lima, Lima, Peru