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This essay describes the merits of Chilean-Uruguayan artist Felipe Seade, an advocate of social realism, and harshly criticizes all of those who hindered his career. The frictions between practitioners of social realism and those who disdained it on dogmatic aesthetic or on political grounds extended into the realm of teaching, especially after the founding, in 1943, of the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes (ENBA), where Seade would become a member of the faculty. In this text, the Grupo Toledo Chico, which was characterized by its defense of local cultural traditions and of artistic formulations that reflected them in the political crucible of Uruguay of the time, addressed specifically Seade the muralist, though he was not able to fully develop work in that medium due to the lack of public policies making “white walls” available to him.


With this text, the Grupo Toledo Chico, which published the cultural journal El Mate, pays tribute to painter Felipe Seade (1912–69) on the occasion of his death. Seade was a political and social activist in Uruguay, and much of his work formed part of the “social realism” movement. Though quite particular, Seade’s work partakes of an expressionism akin to Diego Rivera’s treatment of the human figure, while also showing signs of the impact of Siqueiros’s stay in Montevideo; Seade’s palette bears the influence of his mentor, Uruguayan painter and printmaker Guillermo Rodríguez (1889–1959). While Seade was talented at fresco making, the Uruguayan State—unlike its Mexican counterpart—never supported public art of that sort, which meant that supporters of muralist ideas, like Seade, ended up being “easel fresco-makers.” This article in El Mate praises Seade the muralist, though over the course of his entire career (1930 to 1968) he made only two murals, both in the outlying provinces of Uruguay. It would appear that, in this article, the Grupo Toledo Chico intends to relate the artist with muralism as practice of protest and political activism. Indeed, that was in keeping with the group’s ideology as it attempted to reveal the political potential of local culture, thus resisting the onslaught of the international avant-gardes of the sixties. In terms both harsh and radical, the article expresses discontent with a “society built on rotten foundations”; it condemns “all the shortsighted old fogies who have held back” Seade the painter and the educator.  


[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); by J. Aroztegui (editor-in-chief) “Hacia el encuentro del hombre” (doc. no. 1194504) and “Llamado al espectador” (doc. no. 1195546); “Un mate para despedir el 66 y recibir el 67” (doc. no. 1194176); and “El XV Salón Municipal de Artes Plásticas” (doc. no. 1193049)].

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