The journalist Winston Orrillo (b. 1941) wrote this article on the occasion of the death of the indigenist painter Alicia Bustamante (1907–68).
In their attempts to find the true “Peruvian art,” painters in the indigenist movement used local motifs in their own work, and began to study and reappraise traditional visual arts. They traveled all over the country, looking for native and mestizo artisans whose names and works of art would soon become familiar to residents of the capital city, Lima. One of the major figures in this movement was the Peruvian painter and teacher Alicia Bustamante, who trained at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes, where she studied under José Sabogal (1888–1956), the founder of the school of indigenist painting. Sabogal had a profound influence on Bustamante and her painting and interest in traditional art.
Bustamante had several important exhibitions of her paintings—in Viña del Mar (1937), Instituto Cultural Peruano Norteamericano de Lima (1944), La Paz (1944), and the Galería Lima (1956). But her greatest contribution was to promote traditional art in towns and cities, a move that led to a whole new understanding of Peruvian visual arts. Bustamante worked with Sabogal and a group of indigenist painters at the IAP (Instituto de Arte Peruano) at the Museo Nacional, studying traditional art. She also built the first and one of the most important collections of traditional Peruvian art, which was regularly exhibited at the Peña Pancho Fierro (Lima, 1936–67), a sort of salon for talks and debates on politics, literature, and art, a place that Bustamante actively supported. This venue was frequented by noted artists from the indigenist movement and the Peruvian avant-garde, such as César Moro (1903–56), Fernando de Szyszlo (b. 1925), and Jorge Eduardo Eielson (1924–2006), among others. On Bustamante’s death in 1968, at her request, substantial portions of her collection were donated to the Museo de Arte de la Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos (Lima) and the Galería Latinoamericana at the Casa de las Américas in Havana, Cuba.
[As complementary reading about this artist, see the following articles in the ICAA digital archive: by José María Arguedas “La colección Alicia Bustamante y la universidad” (1139559); by M. F. F. I. (Moisés Fuentes Ibáñez) “De arte: la exposición pictórica de Alicia Bustamante” (1139459); and by C. R. “La exposición de paisajes de Alicia Bustamante” (1139476)].