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    Crítica de pintura : Luis Zevallos Hetzel / R. P.
    La Prensa (Lima, Perú).  -- Abr. 18, 1969
    Newspaper article – Essays
    P., R. "Crítica de pintura: Luis Zevallos Hetzel." La Prensa (Lima, Perú), April 18, 1969.

This anonymous article discusses the controversy that arose in Lima over Motociclista No. 3, the work by Luis Zevallos Hetzel that won the grand prize for painting at the competition organized by the Festivales de Ancón. The article refers to Pinturas de vanguardia, the exhibition of works at the Fundación para las Artes (in Miraflores). The unnamed writer analyzes Zevallos Hetzel’s Pop Art work, interpreting them as “a paean to everyday events [and the] objects that condition and limit mankind’s spiritual movement at a time when technology overwhelms our understanding and moves at speeds that exceed the average person’s mental ability to keep up.” In the reviewer’s opinion, the paintings are about “the destruction of personal myths.” On the one hand “the aesthetic event” derives from the simple choice of object, and on the other, “originality is a factor that may or may not be part” of that process. Zevallos thus fulfills his mission as an artist by obliging viewers of his work to rethink their opinions about contemporary art, especially when faced with such an unconventional approach to authenticity.


This article is part of the great debate about the First Prize for Painting awarded at the Festivales de Ancón in 1969. The controversy erupted when Caretas, a Lima magazine, published the advertisement for a brand of motorcycles upon which the winning submission was allegedly based. The furor was further fueled when it was reported that other supposed “acts of plagiarism” had been committed by Ugo Camandona, who was given an honorable mention at the same event.

Zevallos was one of the pioneers of Pop Art in Peru, and was a member of Arte Nuevo, one of the avant-garde groups at that time. But the scandal stirred up by the decision to award him the prize, as well as other factors, subsequently led him to stop experimenting with innovative styles.

The jury decision concerning the First Prize for Painting at the Festivales de Ancón in 1969 was extremely controversial, and marked both the peak and the turning point for the Peruvian cosmopolitan avant-garde in the local art scene in the 1960s. At that time, Ancón was the most fashionable resort on the outskirts of Lima. During the summer it hosted musical and theatrical events, as well as lectures and a painting competition, which (on that occasion) attracted a great deal of attention. When the results were announced, Caretas magazine published a letter accusing the winning painting—Motociclista No. 3, by Luis Zevallos Hetzel—of plagiarism because it was a “faithful copy” of an advertisement published in the United States for a brand of motorcycles. An honorable mention at the contest went to a (playfully erotic Pop) painting by Ugo Camandona, an Italian painter and ceramicist who lived in Peru, who was also accused of supposed plagiarism. Both accusations sparked a heated debate about the value of “originality” in modern art, and about the role of Pop Art and its function in a consumer society. The apparent anachronism underlying the controversy clearly revealed the very limited penetration of avant-garde ideologies that had been achieved in a cultural milieu that was still reluctant to embrace the radical transformations that art was already experiencing in the rest of the world. All this was taking place in an environment that was increasingly having to adjust to the socialist and nationalist policies of the Gobierno Revolucionario de las Fuerzas Armadas (1968–75), the military regime led by General Juan Velasco Alvarado.

Daniel Contreras Medina / Gustavo Buntinx
Museo de Arte de Lima, Lima, Peru