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Regarding the show of Chilean painting on exhibit in Lima, Ricardo Grau states that “it can be calamitous to have an artistic past like Peru’s” since it often serves as a pretext behind which to hide defects or weaknesses. Because no such excuse was available to them, the Chilean painters in this show were forced to “learn how to paint”—which, in Grau’s view, is a good thing with evident results in the paintings on exhibit by, for instance, Camilo Mori and María Tupper. While the Peruvian painter believes that Chilean painting may not have “come into its own,” it is on its way to discovering “the truth of its future,” that is, to “learning from the ones who know, humiliating though that may be.” That progress stands in contrast to what—in reference to pictorial Indianism—Grau considers time wasted in Peru.
This article by Peruvian painter Ricardo Grau discusses the exhibition of Chilean painters held at the Sociedad Filarmónica de Lima in Peru.
Born in Bordeaux, France in 1907, painter Ricardo Grau returned to Lima permanently in early 1937 after having studied at the École Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels and the École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, as well as in the private studios of painters André Favory, André Lothe, Fernand Léger, and others. Characterized by conservative figuration, his technically sound work formed part of the rappel à l'ordre that emerged in France after World War I. In Lima, that formalist and cosmopolitan approach to painting—one that, despite traditional language, timidly incorporated some avant-garde resources—was seen as an antidote to the Indianism advocated by José Sabogal at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes (ENBA). Grau played an important role in the I Salón de Independientes, where opposition to Indianism was first expressed publicly by a diverse group of artists not bound by an overriding agenda but, rather, by interest in providing an alternative to the ENBA. It was at Grau’s first solo show, held the following month, that he consolidated a leading position in a movement to renew the local art scene. While Carlos Raygada (1898–1953)—the only intellectual of the day to work consistently in art criticism—read that show in solely formalist terms, radical critics of Indianism like Luis Fernández Prada (1917–73) saw it as an authentic renovation; they believed the show put the local scene in synch with new developments in international art without the thematic restrictions and deliberate technical crudeness of the “Peruvian School” advocated by the Indianists.
[For additional information, see in the ICAA digital archive the following articles: Juan E. Ríos’s “La pintura contemporánea en el Perú” (doc. no. 1293275); Raúl María Pereira’s texts “Ensayo sobre la pintura peruana contemporánea (doc. no. 1293152) and “Consideraciones sobre la pintura peruana” (doc. no. 1293103); Carlos Raygada’s “La exposición de Ricardo Grau” (doc. no. 1146716); Carlos More’s “Ricardo Grau ha demostrado con su exposición ser el mejor representante de la plástica en el Perú” (doc. no. 1146600); Luis Fernández Prada’s “Ayer se inauguró una exposición de gran aliento” (doc. no. 1144189); and Froylán Miranda Nieto’s “Elogio en forma de fusta” (doc. no. 1144173)].