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    Lo que niega un cosmopolita / Sebastián Salazar Bondy
    La Prensa : diario independiente de la mañana (Lima, Perú). -- Sep. 27, 1955
    Newspaper article – Essays
    Salazar Bondy, Sebastian. "Lo que niega un cosmopolita." La Prensa : diario independiente de la mañana. (Lima, Perú), September 27, 1955

This text is writer Sebastián Salazar Bondy’s response to the criticism of artistic nationalism voiced by Luis Miró Quesada Garland in El Comercio newspaper (Lima, September 25, 1955) [see in the ICAA digital archive “En blanca y negra” (doc. no. 1138753)]. The author expresses how strange he finds resistance to the idea of describing certain concepts as “Peruvian.” He deems it absurd to see in that term a menace “to the survival of a feeling of universal brotherhood.” In his view, Peru is not only a “political” notion, but also—indeed mostly—a “nation,” and nationality means feeling like part of a common tradition and fate. On the basis of the concept of “tradition,” the article groups together architectural works from different periods under the category of “Peruvian architecture” (pre-Hispanic constructions like Pachacámac and Machu Picchu, and colonial buildings like the Cusco Cathedral and the Torre Tagle Palace). Salazar Bondy makes personal reference to Miró Quesada Garland who, though allied with those who “claim to be avid internationalists,” is brazen enough to take part in professional architecture conferences as a representative of “Peru specifically.” Salazar Bondy condemns the abstract nature of a cosmopolitanism he deems dull and neutralizing.


This text is the second contribution made by Sebastián Salazar Bondy (1924–65) to one of the culminating debates between the faction of Peruvian modernists known as “artepuristas” and supporters of “socially committed art.” Here, the issue of nationalism in painting is addressed from the perspective of a writer.


Writer Sebastián Salazar Bondy (1924–65) even projected the tensions between “the visual arts” and “nationalism” onto the past. He gave a lecture entitled “Cómo la pintura ha buscado al Perú” that constructed a systematic history on the basis of the “Peru-painting” equation (Lima, September 12, 1955). The lecture was later published in three parts: [“El arte colonial entendido como represión” (doc. no. 1138058), “Los que intentan vencer el complejo” (doc. no. 1138075), and “Hallazgo de la realidad perdida: siglo XX” (doc. no. 1138092)]. That lecture suggests Salazar Bondy’s negative opinions of Peruvian colonial art, opinions he would later voice in no uncertain terms in his Lima la horrible (1964)—a book pivotal to the generation of the sixties. This column by Miró Quesada Garland—a major framer of modern art and architecture in Peru—is one of the most acute questionings of the nationalist discourse. In it, he makes ironic reference to the “Peru-painting” equation as a contradictory comparison of terms political and artistic. Salazar Bondy’s response led to an extensive exchange of articles between the two men [for additional information, see “En blanca y negra” (doc. no. 1138753) and (doc. no. 1138772)].


In the modernist debates over this issue—debates that began in June 1951 with statements by painter Fernando de Szyszlo (b. 1925)—critic Samuel Pérez Barreto (1921–2003) defended earthly abstraction as the only possible means to devise art both “Peruvian” and modern. Despite Pérez Barreto’s position, the terms of the debate that ensued over the course of the fifties pitted programmatic and figurative nationalism against an abstract language committed solely to art. Indeed, Miró Quesada Garland and Salazar Bondy had clashed in the debate on nationalism in art in mid-1954.


[For further reading on the debates between Peruvian modernists and advocates of socially committed art, see the following articles in the ICAA digital archive: by Fernando de Szyszlo “Dice Fernando Syszlo que no hay pintores en el Perú ni América: el joven pintor peruano declara sentir su pintura y la de los demás pero no puede explicarla” (doc. no. 1137793); and by critic Samuel Pérez Barreto “Pintura: la guerra de los pintores: plumas por pinceles” (doc. no. 1137839), “Arte: la guerra de los pintores” (doc. no. 1137856), and “Polémica: ‘polémica Espacio’” (doc. no. 1137916). Other texts by Salazar Bondy pertinent to the debate on nationalism include “En torno al desarraigo” (doc. no. 1138565), “Artes plásticas” (doc. no. 1138582), and “Punto final” (doc. no. 1138231). On the other side of the debate, see the column written by Miró Quesada Garland, the primary framer of modern art in Peru, entitled “En blanca y negra” (doc. no. 1138599), (doc. no. 1138620), (doc. no. 1138718), and (doc. no. 1138248)].

Ricardo Kusunoki / Gustavo Buntinx
Museo de Arte de Lima, Lima, Peru
Reproduced with permission of Yvonne Lostaunau de Salazar, Lima, Peru