This article by Juan Acha is exceptional because it offers reflections based on theory—stripped of moralism—during the great controversy generated by the grand prize winner in the painting competition at the Festivales de Ancón in 1969. This was one of the events that marked the culmination and break with the cosmopolitan avant-garde on the Peruvian arts scene of the 1960s.
Ancón was then a stylish spot located on the outskirts of Lima. During the summers, it offered music, theater, as well as conferences and a painting competition that generated much attention (in that year). After the results were announced, Caretas magazine published a letter that argued the winning work—Motociclista No. 3 by Luis Zevallos Hetzel—had been plagiarized because it was a “faithful copy” of an advertisement published in the United States for a brand of motorcycles. In the same competition, a (playfully erotic Pop) painting by Ugo Camandona, an Italian painter and ceramics artist, won an honorable mention; he was based in the country and had also been accused of plagiarism. Both complaints stirred debate on the value of “originality” in modern art, as well as the processes and actions of Pop Art within a consumer society. The anachronistic nature of this controversy revealed the limited penetration of avant-garde ideologies within this cultural space that proved reluctant to embrace the radical transformation that art had already undergone on an international level. This all occurred within a local context increasingly dominated by the nationalistic Revolutionary Government of the Armed Forces (1968–75) led by General Juan Velasco Alvarado.
[As complementary reading, see in the ICAA digital archive the following texts by Juan Acha: “Las bienales en América Latina de hoy” (1079465); “¿Está aún vigente la pintura figurativa?” (1097217); “Consideraciones estéticas: Szyszlo en el I. A. C.” (1292805); “En busca de un autor para Túpac Amaru: una candente polémica” (1107496); “La vanguardia pictórica en el Perú” (1142850); “El Homenaje al cuadrado de Josef Albers” (1293025); “El video” (1097190); and “Teoría y práctica de las artes no objetualistas en América Latina” (1088533). See also these texts by Acha on the controversial homage to Sérvulo Gutiérrez: “Artes Plásticas: Sérvulo Gutiérrez” (1107586); “La pintura de Sérvulo” (1107534); “Polémica sobre el homenaje a Sérvulo: Juan Acha responde a Juan Ríos” (1107568); and “Polémica sobre el homenaje a Sérvulo: Juan Acha responde a Juan Ríos; hija de Sérvulo protesta porque el IAC se negó a exhibir el primer cuadro de su padre” (1107551)].