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Published in 1966 by the Grupo Toledo Chico, the essay “El XV Salón Municipal de Artes Plásticas” is a far-reaching criticism of the Salón Municipal de Artes Plásticas—its organization, bylaws, and administrative and social policy—after the event had been re-launched. In its discontent, the Grupo Toledo Chico addresses the difficulties faced by anyone who attempts to change the Uruguayan art scene. The group’s dissatisfaction with the new version of the Salón Municipal is evident in the text’s satirical title “Un reglamento angelical” (A heavenly regime). While the publication El Mate—the Grupo Toledo Chico’s platform for dialogue and outreach—can be tied to rising leftist political awareness in the early and mid-sixties, its position on aesthetic issues was inarguably conservative and dogmatic.           


The publication El Mate was closely tied to the ideology of the Grupo Toledo Chico, a group that advocated local art with social and rural theme. It was committed to supporting theoretical work and exhibitions in Uruguay that took an innovative stance against “isms, ruptures, affirmations, negations […], and—mostly—confusion.”


The founding members of the Grupo Toledo Chico were Eduardo Rodríguez Amestoy, Joaquín Aroztegui (b. 1943), Jorge Nelson González (1916–73), Ramón Carballal (1919–94), and Raúl López Cortés. Later, artist Rosa Cazhur Gallo (b. 1947), who was married to Aroztegui, joined; she was in charge of the distribution of publications, the monthly prints, and the bimonthly journal El Mate. Writer Juan Capagorry (1934–97), printmaker Antonio Lista (1910–2000), draftsman and painter Pedro Astapenco (1924–2005), among others, were occasional contributors. Eleven issues of El Mate, which was directed by Aroztegui, were published from 1966 to 1968; the journal came with prints and other materials for subscribers. Its content addressed different aspects of local culture, including work with children and schools in the Uruguayan countryside. The group opposed any internationalist cultural expression, focusing instead on the sociopolitical problems facing the Uruguayan capital, albeit from a traditionalist and ruralist stance (the theme of this special edition was “For an alternative and popular culture”). Pursuant to the military coup of 1973 under Juan María Bordaberry and other political events, as well as the disappearance of one of its members (illustrator Jorge Nelson González), the Grupo Toledo Chico brought its work to a close.


This article on the XV Salón Municipal discusses the history of the Salón Municipal since 1940 and its recently enacted regime. Before the salon’s restructuring, members of the politically and artistically conservative Sindicato Libre de Pintores, Escultores y Grabadores tended to hold seats on the jury, which provoked irate reactions on the part of self-declared “modern” artist. Indeed, the salon was occupied in August 1963 due to that conflict. The inter-artistic confederation of trade unions was founded at the end of 1963 in reaction to the clashes between artists and municipal authorities and, soon thereafter, the Unión de Artistas Plásticos del Uruguay (UAPC) was created.  


[For further reading see, in the ICAA digital archive, the following documents published by the Grupo Toledo Chico: released by the Federación de Estudiantes Plásticos del Uruguay (FEPU) “2ª exposición al aire libre en homenaje a Stalingrado” (doc. no. 1210566); “Ha muerto Felipe Seade lloran las paredes blancas” (doc. no. 1193080); by J. Aroztegui (editor-in-chief) “Hacia el encuentro del hombre” (doc. no. 1194504) and “Llamado al espectador” (doc. no. 1195546); and “Un mate para despedir el 66 y recibir el 67” (doc. no. 1194176)].

Marina Garcia, Gabriel Peluffo
Cortesía de Joaquín Aroztegui
Reproducido con el permiso de Joaquín Aroztegui en su carácter de redacotor responsable de la revista "El Mate".
Archivo Museo Juan Manuel Blanes, Montevideo, Uruguay