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In this article, Luis Miró Quesada notes that Lima art critics were unanimously agreed on the importance of Jean Dewasne’s exhibition of paintings, despite the local art world’s animosity toward abstract art. Quesada rejects claims that this style is the product of a “worn out (European) culture,” an assertion that leads those claimants to erroneously point out the supposed incompetence of abstraction, as well as suggesting that it is a “Latin American” form of artistic expression. In the author’s opinion, abstract art echoes Leonardo da Vinci’s dictum: “painting is a mental thing;” that is, non-figurative art is “a new means of artistic communication via pure visual events.” It allows anyone to express themselves and their world through what he calls “a directional evolutionary process.”  


In his weekly column published in the newspaper El Comercio (Lima, October 24, 1954) the architect Luis Miró Quesada Garland replies to the remarks made by Sebastián Salazar Bondy and Edgardo Pérez Luna about the exhibition of works by Jean Dewasne at the Galería de Lima. 


Despite the popularity of abstract expressionism, works such as those produced by Jean Dewasne (1921–99) had a profound impact on Peruvian non-figurative art in the 1950s. During that decade several Peruvian painters visited his Atelier d’Art Abstrait in Paris, including Eduardo Gutiérrez (b. 1920) and Benjamín Moncloa (b. 1927), who had a distinguished career when he returned to Peru. More important still was the French artist’s visit to Peru in 1954 on the occasion of his exhibition at the Galería de Lima. That exhibition was part of an ambitious cycle that introduced Peruvians to European modernity (including works from Italy) and generated a year-long debate on the subject of abstract art. In Lima, Dewasne forged strong ties with non-figurative artists (including Szyszlo) and others who later took part in the Primer Salón de Arte Abstracto in 1958, an event that revealed the extent of Dewasne’s influence [see the exhibition catalogue in the ICAA digital archive, (doc. no. 1143441)]. Largely encouraged by Luis Miró Quesada Garland (1914–94)—the grand champion of modernism—Lima critics on the whole acknowledged the quality of Dewasne’s work, thereby underscoring the potential of non-figurative art [see the following article by Garland “En blanca y negra...” (doc. no. 859530)]. There were, however, important critics such as Sebastián Salazar Bondy (1924–64) [“Artes plásticas” (doc. no. 859550)] and Edgardo Pérez Luna (1928–84) [see “De arte: Jean Dewasne en la Galería de Lima” (doc. no. 859484)], who questioned the relevance of this kind of painting in Latin America, a continent whose “germinal” status, in their opinion, demanded a form of art that reflected a broader social reality.  

Ricardo Kusunoki
Museo de Arte de Lima, Lima, Peru
Reproduced with permission of Luis Miró Quesada Valega, Lima, Peru.