This manuscript expresses the political opinions of Sérvulo Gutiérrez (1914–61)—an eminent expressionist painter who rarely addressed matters political—in the broader context of the intellectual struggle against the Peruvian dictatorship.
In 1948, after ousting the democratically elected government of Luis Bustamante y Rivero in office from 1945 to 1948, a junta led by General Manuel Apolinario Odría seized power in Peru, governing the country for eight years (1948–56). One of that government’s first measures was to outlaw political parties such as the Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana (APRA), led by Raúl Haya de la Torre, and the Communist Party. In July 1949, the polemic Domestic Security Law was enacted, restricting civil liberties. It was in that framework that, in late September 1955, the Asociación Nacional de Escritores y Artistas (ANEA) organized its first convention. The main topic addressed was the civic responsibility of intellectuals. Rather than discuss theoretical questions pertinent to the debate surrounding non-figurative art, the speeches given at the event called for real commitment to the country’s political situation (no reference was made to the dictatorship, however). The convention culminated with a group of intellectuals—among them eminent opponents of abstraction like writers Juan Ríos (1914–91) and Sebastián Salazar Bondy (1924–65)—calling for a general amnesty and the repeal of the aforementioned law—which did not occur until Manuel Prado took office in 1956 pursuant to elections.
[For further reading on the ANEA, see the following texts in the ICAA digital archive: by Eduardo Moll “Reportaje a Carlos A. Castillo” (865074) and “Reportajes” (865093); and by José Sabogal “Pintura mural y Arequipa arquitectónica” (1173383)].