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Antonio Berni introduces the exhibition of drawings by Hugo Pereyra at the Galería Rubbers in Buenos Aires in June 1961. Berni puts on his literary hat to describe the quality of Pereyra’s work and the world it represents. 


Antonio Berni was born in Rosario, Province of Santa Fe, in 1905 and died in Buenos Airesin 1981). Berni went to Europe in 1925 to study art. He settled in Paris, where he became involved with the Surrealist avant-garde and began exploring the Communist theories that were in vogue at the time. On his return to Argentina, he arranged an exhibition of his Surrealist works at the Asociación Amigos del Arte in 1932. A year later, Berni joined the Equipo Polígrafo (the group founded by David Alfaro Siqueiros), which created the mural called Ejercicio Plástico [Plastic Exercise]. His theory of Nuevo Realismo [New Realism], an artistic expression of political and social commitment, evolved out of his vision of transcendent realism. In 1944, Berni founded the Taller de Arte Mural [Mural Art Workshop]. During the 1950s, he produced a number of paintings that depicted rural life, set mainly in the northern Argentine province of Santiago del Estero. These were, in fact, the first chapters in his narrative series of collages featuring his character Juanito Laguna. In 1962 he was awarded the grand prize for print and drawing at the Venice Biennale. The following year he began his Ramona Montiel series. During the ’60s and ‘70s—while continuing to produce paintings, collages, and prints— he created objects, installations, and happenings, and explored stylistic variations in the field of realistic figuration.  

This document provides an opportunity to examine Antonio Berni’s literary writing. The text’s brevity testifies to its poetic quality, and the words reaffirm art’s power to enter dark and threatening places and offer a lifeline. During the ’60s, both these facets were present in Berni’s work and in his artistic discourse.  

Hugo Pereyra settled in Europe so that he could complete his art education, mainly in Madrid and Rome. In 1966 he returned to Argentina, but in 1976 went back to Madrid, where he lived in exile during the Argentine military dictatorship. While he was in Argentina, Pereyra worked with Ignacio Colombres to produce Made in Argentina, an indictment of torture, which was selected for an award but eventually censured by the military government at the Segundo Certamen Nacional de Investigaciones Visuales [Second National Visual Exploration Competition] in 1971.

Roberto Amigo
Fundación Espigas, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Fundación Espigas.