Indigenist painting flourished in Peru from the 1920s to the 1940s as part of a broader movement that sought to redefine Peruvian identity in terms of indigenous elements. Although at some points it was entirely focused on the “indigenous” story and the Inca past that was considered to have been glorious, it also championed a mestizo identity portrayed as a result of the integration of “native” and “Hispanic” cultures. The main ideologue and unchallenged leader of the Indigenist movement in the visual arts was José Sabogal (1888–1956), whose profound interpretation of the concept of “being rooted” was deeply influenced by regional art movements in Spain (exemplified by Ignacio Zuloaga [1870–1945], among others) and in Argentina (Jorge Bermúdez [1883–1926], to mention just one); Sabogal spent a great deal of time in these countries during his formative years. When he returned to Peru in late 1918 he settled in Cuzco, where he produced about forty oil paintings of people and scenes of the city; these works were subsequently shown in Lima (1919) at an exhibition that is considered the formal beginning of Indigenist painting in Peru. Sabogal’s second one-man show, at the Casino Español (1921), established his reputation. He joined the faculty at the new Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes in 1920, where he was eventually appointed director (1932–43). There he trained a group of painters who joined the Indigenist movement, such as Julia Codesido, Alicia Bustamante (1905–68), Teresa Carvallo (1895–1988), Enrique Camino Brent (1909–60), and Camilo Blas (1903–85).
José Eulogio Garrido (1888–1967) was a well-known writer and journalist; he was born in Huancabamba (Piura) and was a leading intellectual in the city of Trujillo. He was the editor of the Trujillo newspaper La Industria (beginning in 1910) and then its director (1929–46). He was a member of the Grupo Norte, a group of distinguished young intellectuals and artists in northern Peru, including Antenor Orrego (1892–1960), Alcides Spelucín (1895–1976), César Vallejo (1892–1938), Juan Espejo Asturrizaga (1895–1965), Macedonio de la Torre (1893–1981), and Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre (1895–1979). He was editor of the Trujillo magazines El Iris (1913) and Perú (1921–22), and from 1927 to 1929 contributed to Amauta, the magazine published in Lima by José Carlos Mariátegui. He was later appointed Director of the Museo Arqueológico de la Universidad Nacional de Trujillo (1949–63). His literary output, which was clearly influenced by the indigenist ideas of the period, expressed his admiration for the landscape and cultures of northern Peru. He is best known for his articles published in La Industria and his books Visiones de Chan Chan (1931); Carbunclos (1946); and El Ande (1929 and 1949), illustrated by Camilo Blas and Sabogal. He was a staunch admirer and close friend of Sabogal’s, as can be seen in this text and in a number of articles he published during the 1920s.