This open letter from Pedro Figari (1861–1938) was published in 1918 when the sculptor Bernabé Michelena (1888–1963) and the painter José Cúneo (1887–1977) had a joint exhibition at the Corralejo gallery in Montevideo. This was one of Cúneo’s first appearances following his recent return from Europe. It was also the time when Figari’s painting career was about to be exposed to the general public. Figari had undoubtedly matured as a painter; his palette was bold and his controversial (even sacrilegious) subject matter was met with some reservations in Uruguay’s conservative, European-style society. Figari’s opinions contributed to the wave of aesthetic renewal that swept over Uruguay in the 1920s. Many years later Cúneo acknowledged Figari’s bold use of color that far exceeded anything any Uruguayan artist had ever done before.
Pedro Figari was active in several different areas, as a philosopher, journalist, educator, lawyer, politician, and artist. He worked for the development of a universal humanism that included, and was based on, an empathetic knowledge of the cultural heritage of the region that was expressed in the local traditions, nature, and society.
[As complementary reading see, in the ICAA digital archive, the following articles by the Uruguayan polymath: “Industrialización de la América Latina, Autonomía y Regionalismo: Carta abierta dirigida por el Dr. Pedro Figari al Excmo. señor Presidente de la República Oriental del Uruguay” (1181222); “Un poco de crítica regional” (1258164); “América Autónoma: no basta instruir, hay que enseñar a trabajar” (795325); “Arte, técnica, crítica. Conferencia bajo el patrocinio de la Asociación Politécnica del Uruguay” (1263840); “Autonomía Regional” (1254337); and “Una carta de Pedro Figari” (1197040)].