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    Nuestros artistas : el triunfo del pintor José Sabogal y su próxima exposición histórica / M.E. Mendizábal
    La Prensa (Lima, Perú). -- Jul. 12, 1921
    Newspaper article – Reviews
    Mendizábal, M.E. "Nuestros artistas: el triungo del pintor José Sabogal y su próxima exposición histórica." La Prensa (Lima, Perú), July 12, 1921.

The author believes “there is almost no hesitation” in recognizing the genius of José Sabogal on the eve of his exhibition in 1921. Speaking in glowing terms, M. E. Mendizábal explains that Sabogal’s paintings shed light on those living in poverty, and describes the painter as “a recluse, like the most beautiful stones.” He calls Sabogal a member of the cosmopolitan circle of painters, comparing his canvases to the work of Ignacio Zuloaga or Hermenegild Anglada i Camarasa, whose paintings he saw when he was a student in Spain. Mendizábal describes the paintings that Sabogal will show at his forthcoming exhibition as “a source of Peruvian history.” Spiraling forward in time, the indigenist painter follows the evolution of Peruvian culture and civilization from the Inca period to the present; from the Indian aristocracy to the Lima elite. The author thinks the exhibition will be a source of spiritual growth.   


This is M. E. Mendizábal’s glowing report on the work of José Sabogal, written on the eve of the painter’s exhibition in Lima in 1921. Not much is known about the author of this article although, due to a printing error, he might actually be the Cuzco sculptor Benjamín Mendizábal (1876–1957), who wrote art criticism at this time, and was once involved in a debate with Teófilo Castillo (1857–1922), the painter and art critic.  


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, Gustavo Buntinx
Museo de Arte de Lima, Lima, Peru