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    José Sabogal ha triunfado rotundamente en Buenos Aires : nuestro compatriota ha sido consagrado como uno de los pintores de mayor significación dentro del arte latinoamericano
    El Tiempo (Lima, Perú). -- Oct. 14, 1928.
    Newspaper article – notes
    El Tiempo (Lima, Perú). "José Sabogal ha triunfado rotundamente en Buenos Aires: nuestro compatriota ha sido consagrado como uno de los pintores de mayor significación dentro del arte latinoamericano." October 14, 1928.

The Argentinean critic writing for El Diario newspaper considers José Sabogal “one of the most important painters in art from the Americas” owing to “a modern vision very much his own” and “a deeply poetic spirit” committed to capturing and expressing “colonial Peru.” The article describes Sabogal as “somber, strong, and refined in sensibility,” and continues stating that he has “a honed intellectual sense of the decorative.” The article highlights the representations of human figures, especially of mulattos and natives rendered “with the truth of the portrait, rich in ethnic and psychological observation.” The text asserts that since Sabogal does not limit himself to a formula, European painting is only pertinent in his work “insofar as painting from all times and regions partakes of common elements.” The exhibition attests to a painter deeply committed to authentic Americanism.


This unsigned article reproduces remarks published in the Argentinean newspaper El Diario on the work of José Sabogal, founder of Peruvian pictorial Indianism, on the occasion of his exhibition at the Sociedad Amigos del Arte in Buenos Aires in 1928. Peruvian critic Carlos Solari had published a broader compilation of texts that outlined the repercussions of Sabogal’s work in Argentina in the magazine Mundial [on that subject, see in the ICAA digital archive by Solari, under the pseudonym “Don Quijote,” “Notas de arte: Sabogal, en Buenos Aires” (doc. no. 1140195)].


Pictorial Indianism, which peaked in Peru in the twenties, thirties, and forties, was part of a wider movement in Peruvian society that attempted to redefine national identity in terms of native elements. At a certain moment, the chief concern of Indianism was the revalorization of “the indigenous” and of an Incan past seen as glorious, the movement also defended a mestizo identity that brought together “the native” and “the Hispanic.” José Sabogal (1888–1956) was indisputably the leader and mind behind Indianism in the visual arts. His deep sense of “rootedness” was influenced by regionalist tendencies evident in art from Spain (the work of Ignacio Zuloaga [1870–1945], among others) and in Argentina (Jorge Bermúdez [1883–1926], to name just one artist)—countries where Sabogal spent a number of years studying. When he returned to Peru in late 1918, he settled in Cusco, where he produced almost forty oil paintings of local characters and views of the city that were exhibited in Lima in 1919. That exhibition is considered the formal beginning of pictorial Indianism in Peru. His second solo exhibition in Lima—the one that enabled him to consolidate prestige—was held in the galleries of the Casino Español in 1921. In 1920, Sabogal joined the faculty of the new Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes, which he directed from 1932 to 1943. The following painters, all of whom formed part of the Indianist movement, studied at that institution: Julia Codesido, Alicia Bustamante (1905–68), Teresa Carvallo (1895–1988), Enrique Camino Brent (1909–60), and Camilo Blas (1903–85).


Sabogal would return to Cusco to draw inspiration for his work at different points in his career. He spent a number of months there in 1925, making sketches for a major group of works that would not be exhibited until 1928—the year when an exhibition of seventy-six oil paintings and prints was held in Montevideo and in Buenos Aires. In Lima, there were great expectations about the response to the work in the Río de la Plata region; articles originally published in the press there, such as this anonymous article, were reproduced. Two days after this article was published, the Lima-based newspaper La Razón transcribed comments originally published in El Diario


[Of the many texts in the archive pertinent to Sabogal, the following were written by the artist himself: “Arquitectura peruana: la casona arequipeña (doc. no. 1173340); “La cúpula en América” (doc. no. 1125912); “Mariano Flórez, 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