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    Túpac Amaru : ¿verdadero retrato? / A.O.Z
    El Comercio : Suplemento dominical (Lima, Perú). -- Sept. 27, 1970
    Newspaper article – notes
    Ortiz Zevallos, Augusto. "Tupac Amaru: ¿verdadero retrato?" El Comercio: Suplemento dominical (Lima, Perú), September 27, 1970.

In this article, Augusto Ortiz de Zevallos (Lima, b. 1949) voices his objections to the premises of the Concurso Nacional de Pintura [National Painting Contest] organized by the Ministerio de Educación in order to establish an official portrait of Túpac Amaru II, indigenous forefather of independence during the Viceroyalty of Peru. His reservations are threefold. First, artists are asked to participate in “a competition for historians,” insofar as they are to settle the historical question of whether or not Túpac Amaru wore a hat. Second, since there is no historical image of the character in question, it is impossible to perform the task assigned and come up with a faithful image. Third, “the painting will not be awarded for its merit as a work of art but rather in function of a dictation.” Together, those factors undermine the artistic quality of the results, since “putting painting at the service of instruction, and therefore of rhetoric means turning it into illustration.” The author argues further that encouraging “passive and primitive” veneration of an image instead of understanding the true value of the hero contradicts the revolutionary principles of the educational reform undertaken by the military regime.


In this article, Peruvian architect and urbanist Augusto Ortiz de Zevallos (b. 1949), who was also an art critic at the time, voices his objections to the premises of the Concurso Nacional de Pintura [National Painting Contest] organized by the Ministerio de Educación in the selection of the official portrait of Túpac Amaru II, indigenous forefather of independence. This was the first criticism of the polemic competition organized by the military regime in 1970 [on that subject, see in the ICAA digital archive by Alfredo Arrisueño Cornejo “Convocan a concurso de pintura para perpetuar la imagen plástica del mártir José Gabriel Condorcanqui” (doc. no. 865422)]. It was published in El Comercio, one of the most influential newspapers in Peru, just two weeks after the call for submissions was issued. The notions put forth here would be central to later voices that also objected to the competition.


José Gabriel Condorcanqui, Túpac Amaru II (1738–81), was a curaca or chief of Incan descent who, in 1780, led the most important Andean uprising against the Spanish empire. Largely ignored by traditional Spanish-American historiography, his figure was the emblem of the so-called Gobierno Revolucionario de las Fuerzas Armadas during its first (1968–75), which was characterized by social reform and by an interest in symbolic representation. The graphic representations of Túpac Amaru II with a “hatted” image by artists and designers such as Jesús Ruiz Durand (b. 1940) would become key to understanding the political uses of artistic creation.


[For further reading on Túpac Amaru II, see the following articles in the archive: by General EP Felipe de la Barra “¿Cómo fue Túpac Amaru?” (doc. no. 865441); (unsigned) “Convocan a concurso: monumento a Túpac Amaru se levantará en el Cuzco” (doc. no. 1053438); by Alfredo Arrisueño Cornejo “Declaran desierto el Concurso de Pintura ‘Túpac Amaru II’” (doc. no. 865498); (unsigned) “En busca de la imagen arquetípica de Túpac Amaru” (doc. no. 865702); and by Daniel Valcárcel “El retrato de Túpac Amaru” (doc. no. 1052165)].

Daniel Contreras Medina
Museo de Arte de Lima, Lima, Peru