This interview is important because it documents the connection, on a personal as well as a professional level, between the main exponent of Peruvian non-figurative art—Fernando de Szyszlo (b. 1925)—and one of the key figures in the European abstract movement at the time, regardless of the differences in the lyrical and geometric expressions of the style.
Despite the popularity of abstract expressionism, works such as those produced by Jean Dewasne (1921–99) had a profound impact on Peruvian non-figurative art in the 1950s. During that decade several Peruvian painters visited his Atelier d’Art Abstrait in Paris, including Eduardo Gutiérrez (b. 1920) and Benjamín Moncloa (b. 1927), who had a distinguished career when he returned to Peru. More important still was the French artist’s visit to Peru in 1954 on the occasion of his exhibition at the Galería de Lima. That exhibition was part of an ambitious cycle that introduced Peruvians to European modernity (including works from Italy) and generated a year-long debate on the subject of abstract art. In Lima Dewasne forged strong ties with non-figurative artists (including Szyszlo) and others who later took part in the Primer Salón de Arte Abstracto in 1958, an event that revealed the extent of his influence. [See the following in the ICAA digital archive, “I Salón de Arte Abstracto” by the Patronato de las Artes (1143441)]. Largely encouraged by Luis Miró Quesada Garland (1914–94)—the grand champion of modernism—Lima critics on the whole acknowledged the quality of Dewasne’s work, thereby underscoring the potential of non-figurative art. [See the following articles by Garland “En blanca y negra...: arte abstracto de Jean Dewasne” (859530); and “En blanca y negra...” (859589)]. There were, however, important critics such as Sebastián Salazar Bondy (1924–64) [see “Artes plásticas” (859550)] and Edgardo Pérez Luna (1928–84) [“De arte: Jean Dewasne en la Galería de Lima” (859484)], who questioned the relevance of this kind of painting in Latin America, a continent whose “germinal” status, in their opinion, demanded a form of art that reflected a broader social reality.