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    Fritz, Óscar
    De arte : la exposición Sabogal / Óscar Fritz
    El  Callao (Callao, Perú). -- Nov. 19, 1937
    p. 8
    Newspaper article – Reviews
    Fritz, Óscar. "De arte: la exposición de Sabogal." El Callao (Callao, Perú), November 19, 1937.

Óscar Fritz compares José Sabogal’s influence on the Peruvian visual arts to Martin Luther’s impact during the Reformation: a process that “sought to return to an earlier simplicity, to embrace a form of evangelical speech that mimicked the words of the faithful, stripped of all interpretation, metaphorical images, and rhetorical flourishes.” The author says that Sabogal comes across as “the number one enemy of preciosity and affectation” as a result of an artistic sincerity that borders on childish primitivism. His paintings rely on purity of line and color. In them, Fritz detects a beauty that is not reflected on the canvases, where the artist shows “uneven, tumble-down houses that seem to be on the verge of collapse: these paintings capture the reality of mountain villages,” inspired by the dual concept of truth-beauty. The author ends his review with a discussion of certain outstanding works in the exhibition.      


In this critical review Óscar Fritz discusses the exhibition of works by José Sabogal, the founder of Peruvian indigenist painting, at the Sociedad Filarmónica (Lima, 1937).


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 (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 one-man show, 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).

Gabriela Germaná Roquez
Museo de Arte de Lima, Lima, Peru