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This article by Alfonsina Barrionuevo was written on the occasion of the celebration of twenty-five years of “Pancho Fierro,” a folk music venue in Lima that the author describes as a “corner of Peru in its purest form embedded in the great cosmopolitan city.” International intellectuals of the stature of Paul Rivet, Pablo Neruda, Rafael Alberti, Francois Bourricaud, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and others visited “Pancho Fierro,” which was founded in 1936 by José María Arguedas, Alicia Bustamante, José Sabogal, Moisés Sáenz, Julia Codesido, Emilio Westphalen, Manuel Moreno Jiménez, and Teresa Carvallo. “Pancho Fierro” was the only folk music venue that pursued cultural and social ends still open at the time the article was published. But, for Barrionuevo—a journalist and researcher of local popular arts—what matters most about the venue “is the Peruvianist endeavor it carries out inside the country” by housing the most beautiful collection of local popular art anywhere in Peru, that is, the collection of Alicia Bustamante, the engine behind “Pancho Fierro.” The collection, the article explains, has grown every year thanks to Bustamante’s many trips around Peru; “every piece [in it] has been chosen on the basis of careful criteria and deep knowledge.” The collection has been exhibited in Paris, Copenhagen, and Mexico City.


In their effort to find true “Peruvian art,” Indianist painters not only used local motifs in their own work, but also began studying and revalorizing local popular art. They traveled around the entire country, making contact with native and mestizo producers whose names and works gradually became known in the Peruvian capital. One important figure in that project was Peruvian painter and educator Alicia Bustamante, who studied at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes under José Sabogal (1888 –1956), the founder of pictorial Indianism in Peru. Sabogal not only influenced Bustamante’s work, but also shaped her interest in local popular art.


While major shows of Bustamante’s painting were held at venues like Viña del Mar (1937), the Instituto Cultural Peruano Norteamericano de Lima (1944), La Paz (1944), and the Galería Lima (1956), her most important contribution was as an advocate of local rural popular arts in urban areas, which proved decisive to a new understanding of art in the country. Bustamante, along with Sabogal and a group of Indianist painters, studied traditional art at the Museo Nacional’s Instituto de Arte Peruano (IAP). She formed the first and one of the most important collections of Peruvian popular art, which was exhibited regularly at the Peña Pancho Fierro (Lima, 1936–67), a venue that—largely at Bustamante’s initiative—housed gatherings and debates on politics, literature, and art. Peña Pancho Fierro was frequented by major figures interested in Indianism and by personalities in the Peruvian avant-garde, individuals like César Moro (1903–56), Fernando de Szyszlo (b. 1925), and Jorge Eduardo Eielson (b. 1924). In keeping with Bustamante’s wishes, major portions of her collection were donated to the Museo de Arte of the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos in Lima and to the Galería Latinoamericana de la Casa de las Américas in Havana, Cuba pursuant to her death in 1968.


For further reading on Bustamante, see José María Arguedas’s “La colección Alicia Bustamante y la universidad” (ICAA digital doc. no. 1139559); M.F.F.I.’s “De arte: la exposición pictórica de Alicia Bustamante” (doc. no. 1139459); Winston Orrillo’s “En la cultura: homenaje a Alicia Bustamante, la madrina del arte popular” (doc. no. 1139542); C. R.’s “La exposición de paisajes de Alicia Bustamante” (doc. no. 1139476); and Francisco Stastny’s “Introducción”(doc. no. 1139585).

Gabriela Germaná Roquez
Museo de Arte de Lima, Lima, Peru
Reproduced with permission of Alfonsina Barrionuevo, Lima, Peru