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In this newspaper article, “Juan Gris” (the pseudonym used by the journalist Mario Belaúnde Guinassi) reviews the first exhibition of works by the members of the Grupo Arte Nuevo. The group organized the exhibition to protest the fact that they were not invited to participate in the first Festival Americano de Pintura (October 1966). The author thinks it is “marvelous” that, as the Festival was opening its doors to the public, the El ombligo de Adán gallery was handing out “popsicles to the people who were wandering about among the Op and Pop paintings hung on the walls.” The reviewer mentions the distribution of a manifesto in which Arte Nuevo describes the festival “as a mechanism whose organization has failed,” criticizing the absence of countries such as Venezuela, the scant number of works from Argentina, and the last-minute confirmation of the presence of the president of the jury, Jorge Romero Brest. The reviewer also mentions that the Argentinean critic felt uncomfortable with the proceedings at the event, as for example with the invitation of “famous names” such as the Chilean painter Roberto Matta (winner of the grand prize) whose work made most of the other submissions look like “fillers used as a frame for the stars of the festival.”


Also known as the I Bienal de Lima or the Bienal de la Feria del Pacífico (named for the location of the competition), the Festival Americano de Pintura took place in October–November 1966. The jury was presided over by the Argentinean critic Jorge Romero Brest (1905–89), as well as the Venezuelan collector Inocente Palacios and the Peruvian architect Luis Miró Quesada Garland (1914–94). Despite the former’s negative vote, the Grand Prize was awarded to the Chilean painter Roberto Matta (1911–2002). The festival’s organization and results stirred controversies and prompted belligerent opposition led by Arte Nuevo, a group of young artists who had not been invited. This event caused a break between generations, pitting an experimentally inclined young avant-garde against the hallowed language of the great exponents of Latin American modernism that was promoted locally by the IAC (Instituto de Arte Contemporáneo).  


The following artists were originally members of the Grupo Señal and went on to form the Arte Nuevo group: Luis Arias Vera (1932–2016), Gloria Gómez-Sánchez (1921–2007), Teresa Burga (b. 1935), Jaime Dávila (b. 1937), Víctor Delfín (b. 1927), Emilio Hernández Saavedra (b. 1940), José Tang (1941–2006), Armando Varela (b. 1933), and Luis Zevallos Hetzel (b. 1933). They started out by installing their works of art in an abandoned illuminated sign store in the historical center of Lima—just a few meters from the Plaza Mayor and the government palace—which they transformed into an improvised gallery they called El ombligo de Adán. This exhibition, which included plenty of Pop Art, Op Art, and installations, was an important step for new Peruvian art movements, especially in terms of its challenge to so-called “traditional” art.


[On the subject of the Grupo Arte Nuevo, see the following articles in the ICAA digital archive: by Luis Freire “De cómo el Gral. Velasco reventó el ‘¡Pop! Art’” (doc. no. 1139323); by Juan Acha “Espíritu renovador: exposición del Grupo “Arte Nuevo’” (doc. no. 1142771); (anonymous) “Exagerado sentido realista: Exposición de Luis Arias Vera” (doc. no. 1142510); by Mario Belaúnde Guinassi (under the pseudonym “Juan Gris”) “La nueva imagen del IAC” (doc. no. 1142594); by Felipe Buendía “Mala noche de Buendía” (doc. no. 1142628) and “Resentido social” (doc. no. 1142644); by the Grupo Arte Nuevo (untitled) [“Nos encontramos en un mundo determinado...”] (doc. no. 1142834); (anonymous) “Op-Pop-Sex” (doc. no. 1142804); and (anonymous) “Treinta minutos de charla con la señora Gloria Benvenuto de Gómez Sánchez, nuevo valor de la Pintura Nacional” (doc. no. 1142413)].

Daniel Contreras Medina
Museo de Arte de Lima, Lima, Peru