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This article reveals the bonds that existed between the two AIAPE organizations in the Río de la Plata region (in Montevideo and Buenos Aires). This relationship helped to foster gatherings and exhibitions of works by artists with similar aesthetic and political concerns. On this occasion, interest was focused on Demetrio Urruchúa’s exhibition in Montevideo. Six years earlier, this artist was among those who joined David Alfaro Siqueiros and his team, the Equipo Poligráfico, to paint the Ejercicio Plástico (1933) in the basement of the publisher Natalio Botana’s house. In this article, the Uruguayan painter Carmelo de Arzadun reviews the Argentinian artist’s work when it was first shown in Uruguay.  


The painter Carmelo de Arzadun (1888–1968) admits that he was asked to review the exhibition of works by Demetrio Urruchúa (1902–78), but that, once he saw the artist’s work, what had begun as a routine assignment developed into genuine enthusiasm. Arzadun’s review focuses on two aspects of the experience, mentioning the Argentinian artist’s cordial nature and charm, and then focusing on his painting. In the reviewer’s opinion, Urruchúa’s palette of strong tones is appropriate to his “stirring song,” including “nightmarish” contrasting blacks and whites which at times converse with his “lyrical” blues and golds. It is not surprising that Urruchúa’s paintings and prints are more popular in Uruguayan artistic circles than the works of Antonio Berni (another member of the team that painted the Ejercicio Plástico). This is not just because Urruchúa had had a painting studio in Montevideo for long periods of time, but because his lyrical treatment of the human figure—applied with an expressionist, almost oneiric and fantastic touch—was very compatible with the sensibilities of the Río de la Plata region. It was very much in line with the poetic, melancholy approach taken by social realist artists to the human figure, which was a long way from the hyperrealism and anamorphosis of Berni’s early paintings in the 1930s.    

María Eugenia Grau, Gabriel Peluffo
Archivo Joaquín Aroztegui