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The (unknown) author of this article reports and comments on the exhibition of works by the Argentinian painter, printmaker, and muralist Demetrio Urruchúa at the Ateneo de Montevideo. The article specifically mentions certain iconographic aspects of this artist’s work: his human figures with large faces (a key component in his own figurative iconography) that were icons of humanism in a state of crisis that combined terror and astonishment with free will. At the most critical point in the European war during the 1940s, Urruchúa’s figurative allegories lauding both work and suffering synthesized a heartfelt expression of international humanist protests, which the AIAPE endorsed.
Brief and informative, this document demonstrates a desire to bring together visual works of art by artists with similar sensibilities concerning controversial social issues, not just on a regional level but in the context of the world collapse that was presaged by the Spanish Civil War (1936–39). In this climate, Argentinian and Uruguayan anti-fascist associations enthusiastically worked with a variety of American refugee organizations: anti-government, liberal, democratic, socialist, and communist groups with similar ideological leanings that, faced with a worldwide crisis, created their own regional networks. These groups soon organized activities and events of different kinds, including exhibitions for artists whose figurative works were overtly political, such as the one arranged for Demetrio Urruchúa at the Ateneo de Montevideo (1939). Argentina founded its AIAPE (Agrupación de Artistas, Intelectuales, Periodistas y Escritores) in 1935 and Uruguay followed suit a year later, thus creating an ideological network in the Río de la Plata region that facilitated exhibitions for Urruchúa and for Antonio Berni (Argentina, 1905-81), thus providing these artists with a sort of teaching engagement in Montevideo. The anonymous author of this article focuses on descriptions of the allegorical female figures in Urruchúa’s works that are presented as symbols of universal values that have been violently affected by wars; they are generative, powerful women who fight and suffer. The Argentinian painter extended his stay in Uruguay, teaching and painting murals, including the ones in the reading room of what is now the Instituto de Profesores Artigas (painted in 1939). These murals reveal the influence of the Mexican artist David Alfaro Siqueiros, whose inspiration led to the founding of the Taller de Arte Mural in Argentina (1944). Urruchúa’s exhibition in Montevideo is reviewed in another article published by the AIAPE.