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The author of this article provides a detailed, almost biographical description of José Sabogal’s apprenticeship, beginning with the modest circumstances of his family in his hometown of Cajabamba, which he left when he was sixteen years old. After working in Trujillo and Lima (1909) he manages to travel to Europe, where he starts training as an artist in Rome. During this period he also visits France, Spain, and North Africa. He later moves to Argentina (where he spends time in Buenos Aires and Jujuy). He returns to Peru in 1918, and a year later has his first exhibition in Lima, where his skills as a draftsman and colorist attract attention, as does his use of the latest modern methods. At his second exhibition in Lima, his paintings portray remote mountain landscapes and olive-skinned Indians dressed in colorful clothing that reveal his talents as an excellent colorist. His canvases were compared to the work of Spanish painters such as Joaquín Sorolla, Hermenegild Anglada, and Eduardo Chicharro. The author predicts that his art will reach even greater heights, and lauds the impressive quality of his current painting.


In this article, the Peruvian writer and feminist Zoila Aurora Cáceres, who signs her review with her pseudonym “Evangelina,” discusses the second exhibition of work by the founder of Peruvian indigenist painting José Sabogal (in Lima, at the Casino Español) during the celebrations organized to commemorate the first centenary of Peruvian Independence in July 1921.

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 Cuzco where 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