With this text, Peruvian journalist and writer Luis Freire (b. 1945) intervened in the controversy that arose around the fact that the 1975 Premio Nacional de Cultura [award] in the art category was granted to Andean altarpiece maker Joaquín López Antay (1897–1981). Freire, a cultural journalist for many years, published an array of articles on this polemic [see in the ICAA digital archive another article by Freire, published February 21, 1976, entitled “López Antay levanta polvareda” (1136317)]. He later upheld traditional popular aesthetics. This text formed part of a selection of articles on the polemic published in the third issue of Guamangensis. Revista de la Universidad Nacional de Huamanga (1997).
The decision to grant the 1975 Premio Nacional de Cultura [award] in the art category to Andean altarpiece maker Joaquín López Antay gave rise to one of the most heated polemics in the history of Peruvian art, one that brought to the surface the latent tensions and mistrust surrounding the cultural policies supported by the military government under General Juan Velasco Alvarado (1968–75). In his search for an “authentic” national culture, he attempted to revalorize the image of the peasant and of peasant lifestyles as opposed to “Western” cultural forms. Indeed, granting the prize to López Antay meant ignoring widely recognized contenders such as visual artists Carlos Quízpez Asín (1900–83) and Teodoro Núñez Ureta (1912–88), and German-born academic musician Rodolfo Holzmann (1910–92).
[Regarding these events, see the following articles in the archive: by Alfonso Castrillón, Leslie Lee, and Carlos Bernasconi “Fundamentación para el dictamen por mayoría simple a favor del artista popular Joaquín López Antay” (1135896); by Alfonso Bermúdez “Premio a López Antay suscita controversias. Unos: consagración del arte popular. Otros: una cosa es arte y otra artesanía” (1135879); by Francisco Abril de Vivero, Luis Cossío Marino, and Alberto Dávila “Artistas plásticos cuestionan premio” (1135960); and (unsigned) “‘No todos nos quieren ni en Lima ni en Ayacucho’: así comentó sobre cuestionamiento a premio (…)” (1135930)].