Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

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Synopsis

In this essay, Alejandro Anreus outlines the cultural and historical conditions that have influenced what he terms the “iconography of Latin America.” He emphasizes the role of U.S. cultural imperialism and exploitation in the development of a culture of resistance in Latin America. This culture, according to him, reflects and remembers the region’s pre-Columbian past, the trauma of the European conquest, and the many independence wars fought in recent history. Anreus profiles Nuyorican painter Juan Sánchez, proposing that his work clearly contributes to and embodies a culture of resistance, incorporating themes and images that reflect his heritage and allegiances. In particular, many of Sánchez's works feature the image of Puerto Rican nationalist Pedro Albizu Campos, therefore commemorating the latter’s commitment and contributions to Puerto Rican independence, as well as his fierce political activism. Viewing Albizu as “our Malcom X,” Sánchez integrates his image into the iconography of Latin America through his artworks. Anreus proposes that, for Sánchez, Albizu stands alongside the Virgin of Guadalupe, Che Guevara, and others as an icon of Latin American cultural resistance. 

Annotations

Art historian and former Jersey City Museum curator Alejandro Anreus began his association with Juan Sánchez back in 1990. Since then he has curated Sanchez’s artwork in more than four exhibitions, including a traveling survey show of the artist’s prints. Anreus contextualizes the representation of Albizu Campos within the left-wing nationalism of Latin America in the 1920s and 1930s, as well as Sánchez own background as a community activist connected to the Nuyorican Young Lords Party. Finally, he also reads the imagery within the spirituality of Liberation Theology and its significance in the life and work of Sánchez. The article is charged with the left-wing ideology and spirit of both the artist and author, making Anreus—in the words of Lucy R. Lippard—“an advocate critic” or someone dedicated in supporting and endorsing minority voices.

This is the Spanish version of this text; see doc. no. 809206.

Researcher
Tere Romo.
Team
Chicano Studies Research Center, UCLA, Los Angeles, USA
Credit
Courtesy of the private archives of Alejandro Anreus, Roselle Park, NJ