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    La peruanizacíon de la pintura / N. Nahuaca
    El Comercio (Lima, Perú). -- Ago. 31, 1958.
    Newspaper article – Essays
    Nahuaca, N. “La peruanización de la pintura.” El Comercio (Lima, Perú), (August 31, 1958).

This article by Juan Acha addresses the relationship between nationalism and painting. To the writer, Peruvianized painting is usually identified by its iconography. In this regard, he acknowledges that “[d]esde un punto de vista estético-sociológico, el tema no carece de interés” [in terms of aesthetics and sociology, nationalism is a theme that is not without interest]. However, he notes the need to define its limits by tamping down the exterior elements that characterize the medium. In Peru, lo nacional [what is national], as a theme, would have represented an indispensable, though insufficient effort, since “[l]a iconografía debe ser la urdimbre donde se tejen las constantes, las búsquedas y las creaciones pictóricas” [iconography must be the warp through which we weave the constant factors, our searches and our pictorial creations]. He believes that authentic art must fit lo nacional into pictorial terms, a practice that would be adopted in the work of Jorge Vinatea Reinoso. Nevertheless, he also points out the error of “expresionismo subjetivo” [subjective expressionism], which “toma la iconografía como símbolo de aquella interioridad nuestra que tenga vigencia universal, para conseguir validez estética” [takes iconography as a symbol of our internal lives, according it universality and thus deeming it the source of aesthetic validity].


Juan Acha (1916-95) is one of the central figures in the discussion of Peruvian art in the second half of the twentieth century. To begin with, Acha was educated as a chemist in Munich (Germany) and pursued that occupation when he returned to Lima in 1942. Sixteen years later, under the pseudonym of J. Nahuaca, he published his first articles on art in Lima’s influential daily newspaper, El Comercio. This was the start of a long period in which he worked as a critic and theoretician. In those essays, he provided a complex overview of the local art scenario, identifying the range of nationalist paths taken by the Peruvian visual arts. It was only a few years since the intense debate on Abstract art, one of whose main issues was the relationship between art and nationalism. By the late 1950s, however, the model of pre-Columbian art began to emerge as a way out of the opposition between a national art and the cosmopolitan nature of Abstract art.

In the 1960s, Acha traveled to Mexico, where he remained for the rest of his life.


Ricardo Kusunoki
Museo de Arte de Lima, Lima, Peru
Courtesy of the personal archive of Mtra. Mahia Biblos, Mexico City, Mexico