This text is a review of the painter José Sabogal’s exhibition at the Lima Country Club, in 1940.
This article was written by the art critic Carlos Raygada, a distinguished figure in the Peruvian art world from the 1930s through the 1950s. He wrote for newspapers such as El Comercio, El Perú, and La Crónica, and edited the art magazines Stylo (1920) and Presente (1930–31). He was also a music critic and was involved in the founding of the Conservatorio Nacional de Música (1946). Raygada’s art reviews showed his clear preference for indigenist works; on the other hand he was unimpressed with movements such as abstraction, which finally achieved a measure of acceptance in Peru in the 1950s.
In the mid-1930s a powerful movement emerged to oppose the Indigenist style—which was perceived as official and exclusive—and eventually, in 1943, Sabogal was dismissed from the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes. Supporters of Indigenism viewed this move as unjust, and rallied to the painter’s defense in letters, newspaper articles, and social events.
In Sabogal’s final period—from the mid-1940s until his death in 1956—he was hard at work again, producing a large number of paintings in his studio, which led to his last exhibition, held at the Sociedad de Arquitectos del Perú (Lima) in 1954. At this time he was also interested in promoting the practice of muralism in Peru (along the lines of the Mexican example), and in studying traditional art. These were interests he pursued after he was reappointed director of the Instituto de Arte Peruano (Museo Nacional de la Cultura Peruana) in 1946, and returned to his exploration of “mestizo art,” as reflected in his paintings of the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega.