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This is an interview with Milner Cajahuaringa regarding his renouncement of being honorably mentioned by the Concurso Nacional de Pintura established in tribute to Túpac Amaru II after the main prize of the competition was voided. The Peruvian artist blamed the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes for its didactic failure as the majority of participants were academicians. He regretted that his pictorial proposal was not understood. He stated that “an artist does not create with political ideas as the objective but rather on the visual artistic dilemma as the criteria and through it, unconsciously, the artist leaves a statement.” He also rejected the selection made in Peru for the exhibition Pintura del Pacto Andino. Though it had received a lot of publicity, in his opinion, it was anything but representative, as it was chosen exclusively by the IAC (Instituto de Arte Contemporáneo), an institution that according to him “made these exhibitions with its ‘people’”. In response to this exhibition a parallel exhibit opened at the newly inaugurated Galería Trapecio with the objective to question both the IAC and sixteen other artists.


This article ended the controversy generated when the Concurso Nacional de Pintura convened by the Peruvian military regime (1968–75) to establish an official portrait of Túpac Amaru II declared the main award had been voided. The protest considered the cancellation of the award as an attack on the dignity of the artist Milner Cajahuaringa who publicly renounced being honorably mentioned by the competition. A month after that political gesture by the artist this interview was published. The historian Daniel Valcárcel was consulted and gave his advice on both the sketch and the artwork presented by Cajahuaringa showing the forefather of the Independence of Peru standing on a plateau, dressed in an “unco” or Inca costume. Paradoxically, the martyr’s face would be repeatedly used in the political rallies of President General Juan Velasco Alvarado (1910–77). A few years later, in 1988, the guerrilla group MRTA (Movimiento Revolucionario Túpac Amaru) appropriated the image for its logo.

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 phase (1968–75), which was characterized by social reform and by an interest in symbolic representation.

[Please refer to the ICAA digital archive for the following texts on Túpac Amaru II: “¿Cómo fue Túpac Amaru?” by General EP Felipe de la Barra (doc. no. 865441); “Convocan a concurso: monumento a Túpac Amaru se levantará en el Cuzco” (without author) (doc. no. 1053438); “Convocan a concurso de pintura para perpetuar la imagen plástica del mártir José Gabriel Condorcanqui” (without author) (doc. no. 865422); “Declaran desierto el Concurso de Pintura ‘Túpac Amaru II’” by Alfredo Arrisueño Cornejo (doc. no. 865498); “En busca de la imagen arquetípica de Túpac Amaru” (without author) (doc. no. 865702); “El retrato de Túpac Amaru” by Daniel Valcárcel (doc. no. 1052165); and “Túpac Amaru: ¿verdadero retrato?” by A. O. Z. (doc. no. 865460)].

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