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This interview with painter and muralist Teodoro Núñez Ureta includes some biographical notes and photographs of his work space. Núñez Ureta asserts that the so-called “isms,” fruit of European decadence, contaminate painting in America. What is required to offset them is a return to the reality of the Americas, “the first great miracle of light and horizons.” That way, we can “speak of our own concerns in our own language and with our own voice.” He believes that art must be an expressive instrument and, insofar popular, accessible to everyone. Núñez Ureta states that, with the mural, Mexican artists have demonstrated the social function of painting. For that reason, he rejects the “modern” impulse—a “cancer” in painting, in his view—as something that separates artists from their reality.
During the fifties, many Peruvian critics looked to Mexican muralism as a model of modern, contemporary, and “national” art capable of offsetting the formalist cosmopolitanism of abstraction. The decade witnessed the emergence of a local muralist movement that drew on the construction of large public buildings under the dictatorship of General Manuel Odría in power from 1948 to 1956. In 1954, La construcción del Perú, the first major work of muralism in Peru, was presented; painted by Teodoro Núñez Ureta (1912–88), the work was located at the Ministerio de Hacienda building in Lima. The piece represented a crowning moment in the career of one of the most prolific muralist artists in Peru. Despite his criticism of Indianism, in the late thirties Núñez Ureta wrote widely in support of socially committed art with national themes.
[For further reading on the mural La construcción del Perú, see in the ICAA digital archive the following articles: Luis Miró Quesada Garland’s “En blanca y negra...” (doc. no. 865020); and E. Pérez Luna’s “Puntos de vista” (doc. no. 865197) and “Puntos de vista: el mural de Teodoro Núnez Ureta” (doc. no. 865055)].