This review was part of the grand controversy that erupted over the First Prize for Painting at the Festivales de Ancón in 1969, one of the events that marked both the peak and the turning point for the Peruvian cosmopolitan avant-garde in the 1960s local art scene. Some years later (in 1975), the critic and art historian Alfonso Castrillón played a leading role in another important controversy when, as a member of the jury, he defended the decision to award the National Culture Prize to Joaquin López Antay (1897–1981), the Andean maker of traditional altarpieces.
The jury decision concerning the first prize (for painting) at the Festivales de Ancón in 1969 was extremely controversial and marked both the peak and the turning point for the Peruvian cosmopolitan avant-garde in the 1960s local art scene. At that time, Ancón was the most fashionable resort on the outskirts of Lima. During the summer it hosted musical and theatrical events, as well as lectures and a painting competition that (on that occasion) attracted a great deal of attention. When the results were announced, Caretas magazine published a letter accusing the winning painting—Motociclista No. 3, by Luis Zevallos Hetzel—of plagiarism because it was a “faithful copy” of an advertisement published in the United States for a brand of motorcycles. An honorable mention at the competition went to a (playfully erotic Pop Art) painting by Ugo Camandona, an Italian painter and ceramicist who lived in Peru, who was also accused of supposed plagiarism. Both accusations sparked a heated debate about the value of “originality” in modern art, and about the role and function of Pop Art within consumer society. The apparent anachronism underlying the controversy clearly revealed the very limited penetration of avant-garde ideologies that had been achieved in a cultural milieu that was still reluctant to embrace the radical transformations that art was already experiencing in the rest of the world. All this was taking place in an environment that was increasingly having to adjust to the socialist and nationalist policies of the Gobierno Revolucionario de las Fuerzas Armadas (1968–75), the Revolutionary Government of the Armed Forces led by General Juan Velasco Alvarado.
Zevallos was one of the pioneers of Pop Art in Peru, and was a member of Arte Nuevo, one of the avant-garde groups at that time. But the uproar over the Festivales de Ancón controversy and other factors related to the ensuing scandal subsequently led him to stop experimenting with innovative styles.