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    Hernández, José Alfredo, 1910-1962
    Las exposiciones de pintura : exposición Sabogal
    La Crónica (Lima, Perú). -- Ago. 1, 1921.
    Newspaper article – Reviews
    Hernández, José Alfredo. "Las exposiciones de pintura: exposición Sabogal." La Crónica (Lima, Perú), August 1, 1921.

The author José Alfredo Hernández describes José Sabogal as a fully-developed artist with a clearly-defined technique, whose work should only be judged according to appropriately demanding criteria. Hernández mentions the indisputable beauty of all the paintings exhibited at the Casino Español in Lima (1921), including landscapes and portraits, which testify to the importance of this artist: “His portraits are the work of a well-developed, strong, energetic artist” with a commendable ability to express his subjects through a local prism. The reviewer applauds the fact that Sabogal has overcome a supposed earlier tendency to deform his subjects and “make them look a little like caricatures.”


This brief essay, by the attorney, poet, journalist, and cultural critic José Alfredo Hernández, is about the second exhibition of works by José Sabogal, the founder of indigenist painting, held at the Casino Español in Lima during the celebrations honoring the first centenary of Peruvian independence (July 1921). The review includes comments about other exhibitions of works by José María Eguren and Bernardo de Rivero.  


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 Germaná Roquez, Gustavo Buntinx
Museo de Arte de Lima, Lima, Peru
Courtesy of José Hernández, Bogotá, Colombia.