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    Jarque, Fietta
    ¿Mural que muere? : en villa El Salvador / Fietta Jarque
    El Observador (Lima, Perú). -- Sep. 1, 1982
    p. 4 : ill.
    Newspaper article – Essays
    Jarque, Fietta. "¿Mura que muere?: en Villa El Salvador." El Observador (Lima, Perú), September 1, 1982, 4.

The writer Fietta Jarque discusses the possible reasons for the deterioration of the mural the Dutch artist Karel Appel painted on a wall in a shantytown in Lima that—despite the fact that it would have “cost many thousands of dollars had he been commissioned to paint it”—was gradually covered over with posters, graffiti, coats of paint, and advertising messages. Jarque points out how public art ponders “what to say and who to; what does the user-population need?” She notes similarities to Tilted Arc, the work produced by Richard Serra in Manhattan that was also controversial and ultimately removed: “the residents of Villa El Salvador would no doubt have been delighted to receive this sculpture, and would have wasted no time in preparing the large blackboard they would need.” Jarque ends on an ironic note: “They express themselves with paint, but not through paint.”


In this article, the Peruvian writer and journalist Fietta Jarque describes the gradual disinterest in and deterioration of the mural that the well-known Dutch artist Karel Appel (1921–2006) painted in February 1976, at no charge, in Villa El Salvador, the largest shantytown in Lima, with the aid of local residents. This is probably the only newspaper report of the gradual disappearance of that controversial and much-praised work of art. By the early 1980s, despite the fact that it was created as a community project, the constant overlay of graffiti, vandalism, and advertising had left the mural in very bad condition. A few years later, it vanished completely when the building was steamrolled by the neighborhood’s new municipality. 


The painter’s own version of this experience can be found in Karel Appel: Street Art, Ceramics, Sculpture, Wood Reliefs, Tapestries, Murals, Villa El Salvador (New York: Abbeville Press in association with Cross River Press, 1985). [See in the ICAA digital archive (doc. no. 102138)].


[As complementary reading on Karel Appel, see the following articles the ICAA digital archive: (unattributed) “El retablo es ‘Folclor Dadá’ y es arte, opinó plástico holandés Karel Appel: ‘lo que vio en la Escuela de Artes Plásticas no era arte’ dijo” (doc. no. 865535); by Appel “Villa El Salvador: Kerouaciana” (doc. no. 1052138); (unattributed) “Pobladores de Villa El Salvador pintarán murales en la calle dirigidos por el artista Appel” (doc. no. 865645); (unattributed) “Cosas de la Villa” (doc. no. 865627); by Luis Freire Sarria “La Cobra en Villa El Salvador (I)” (doc. no. 865607); and (unattributed) “El pueblo muralista” (doc. no. 865664)].

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