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


Document first page thumbnail
  • ICAA Record ID
    Balarezo Pinillos, Ezequiel
    La exposición Sabogal / G. R.
    La Prensa (Lima, Perú). -- Jul. 17, 1919.
    Newspaper article – Reviews
    Roger, Gastón. "La exposición Sabogal." La Prensa (Lima, Perú), July 17, 1919.

In this [document about] Sabogal’s first exhibition in Lima, the author wrongly declares that he is a “painter from Cuzco” because that is where he painted the works in the exhibition. The reviewer also has some reservations about the canvases on display, suggesting that despite being a distinguished colorist, Sabogal appears not to have mastered that technique. After accusing him of “incipient theatricality and excessively ornate realism,” Balarezo Pinillos admits that it is not his technique that invigorates his style but “his highly personal approach to perspective and the figure, his robust aesthetic sense, and his originality.” In the reviewer’s opinion, Sabogal’s painting reveals the vigorous “temperament of a profoundly sincere, truly Peruvian artist.”


In this ambivalent critical review, the Peruvian journalist and cultural critic Ezequiel Balarezo Pinillos—writing under the pseudonym “Gastón Roger”—discusses the first exhibition in Lima of work by the founder of Peruvian indigenist painting, José Sabogal (Casa Brandes, 1919). Although less unilateral and certainly not free of observations, this other commentary on the indigenist approach to painting reveals the importance of Sabogal’s emergence in the Peruvian visual art scene.

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 glorious Inca past that 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 (exemplified by Ignacio Zuloaga [1870–1945], among others) and in Argentina (Jorge Bermúdez [1883–1926], to mention just one); Sabogal spent a great deal of time in these countries during his formative years. When he returned to Peru in late 1918, he settled in Cuzcowhere he produced about 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: Julia Codesido, Alicia Bustamante (1905–1968), Teresa Carvallo (1895–1988), Enrique Camino Brent (1909–1960), and Camilo Blas (1903–1985).

[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 Germaná Roquez, Gustavo Buntinx
Museo de Arte de Lima, Lima, Peru
Ezequiel Balarezo Pinillos, 1919