Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art Home


Document first page thumbnail

According to this article, this exhibition presented people in Lima with a rare opportunity “to see absolutely modern painting,” which prizes “emotive qualities, sincerity, and the power of values” more highly than the typical “familiar classical works.” Furthermore, “there is, above all, character, and racial expression.” Of all the works exhibited, the article pays special attention to the portraits that—far from simply portraying a faithful likeness of one person or another—played “a superior role,” since like certain other Peruvian painters (Abelardo Álvarez Calderón and Carlos Baca Flor, among others), Sabogal “creates works that break out of the familiar restrictive mold to flaunt themselves as canvases depicting a sort of national documentary.” The writer of the article is particularly interested in the fact that every canvas had been painted during the painter’s six-month visit to Cuzco, and they all featured local landscapes and ladies. The article includes images of and praise for the exhibition catalogue of work by the Catalan painter Hermenegild Anglada i Camarasa.


This is an anonymous review of the first time the founder of Peruvian indigenist painting, José Sabogal, exhibited his work in Lima, at Casa Brandes in 1919.


Indigenist painting flourished in Peru from the 1920s to the 1940s as part of a broader movement that sought to redefine Peruvian identity in terms of indigenous elements. Although at some points it was entirely focused on the “indigenous” story and the Inca past that was considered to have been glorious, it also championed a mestizo identity portrayed as a result of the integration of “native” and “Hispanic” cultures. The main ideologue and unchallenged leader of the indigenist movement in the visual arts was José Sabogal (1888–1956), whose profound interpretation of the concept of “being rooted” was deeply influenced by regional art movements in Spain (Ignacio Zuloaga [1870–1945], among others) and in Argentina (Jorge Bermúdez [1883–1926], to mention one of them); these were countries where Sabogal spent many of his formative years. When he returned to Peru in late 1918, he settled in Cuzco, where he produced almost forty oil paintings of people and scenes of the city; these works were subsequently shown in Lima (1919) at an exhibition that is considered the formal beginning of indigenist painting in Peru. Sabogal’s second solo exhibition at the Casino Español (1921), established his reputation. He joined the faculty at the new Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes in 1920, where he was eventually appointed director (1932–43). There he trained a group of painters who joined the indigenist movement, such as Julia Codesido, Alicia Bustamante (1905–68), Teresa Carvallo (1895–1988), Enrique Camino Brent (1909–60), and Camilo Blas (1903–85).


[There are many articles about this artist in the ICAA digital archive, including the following written by Sabogal: “Arquitectura peruana: la casona arequipeña” (doc. no. 1173340); “La cúpula en América” (doc. no. 1125912); “Mariano Florez, artista burilador de ‘mates’ peruanos, murió en Huancayo: José Sabogal su admirador y amigo, le rinde homenaje” (doc. no. 1136695); “Los mates burilados y las estampas del pintor criollo Pancho Fierro” (doc. no. 1173400); “Los ‘mates’ y el yaraví” (doc. no. 1126008); “La pintura mexicana moderna” (doc. no. 1051636); and “Sala de arte popular peruano en el Museo de la Cultura: selecciones de arte” (doc. no. 1173418)].

Gabriela Germana Roquez / Gustavo Buntinx
Museo de Arte de Lima, Lima, Peru
Reproduced with permission of the publisher, Lima, Peru