In his Sunday column “En blanca y negra” (Lima, January 1, 1955), critic Luis Miró Quesada Garland includes a selection of excerpts from texts he published in El comercio newspaper in 1954.
Although Fernando de Szyszlo (n. 1925) sparked debate with declarations he made in May 1951 regarding abstract art within the local arts scene [see in the ICAA digital archive the article “Dice Fernando Szyszlo que no hay pintores en el Perú ni América: el joven pintor peruano declara sentir su pintura y la de los demás pero no puede explicarla” (no author) (1137793)], the discussion developed over the course of the following three years. This was due to the unusual [level of] arts activities in 1954 that included an ambitious cycle of exhibitions organized by the Galería de Lima, which served as the chief driver of deliberation through its programming: Chilean painter Roberto Matta (April), contemporary Italian painters (May), Surrealist painters (July) and French artist Jean Dewasne (October). Another important event was the exhibition on Mexican art —organized by La Crónica newspaper (May)— which brought the public of the Peruvian capital face to face with the art of that country, then considered the paradigm for “national art” by many critics. All these events represented an outreach toward the avant-garde, increasing the necessity to identify the terms upon which [Peru] would take its place within the modern arts.
Juan Manuel Ugarte Eléspuru (1911-2004), then a professor at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes de Lima, offers a brief but detailed account of arts activities in Lima during 1954. He highlights the uninterrupted development of the debates, which were constantly being revived by various exhibitions [see Juan Manuel Ugarte Eléspuru, “12 meses de artes plásticas en Lima” (1137301)]. His stance on abstract art —which he considered decorative— contrasted with that of architect and critic Luis Miró Quesada Garland (1914-94), the chief defender and theoretician of this new trend. His weekly column, reproduced here, offers a summary of his criticism in that crucial year. Little more than five years later, Ugarte Eléspuru had transformed his initial reticence toward abstract art into an open affiliation with informalism.