The painter Carmelo de Arzadun (1888–1968) provides a long list of artistic events that he describes as a chronicle of the exhibitions held in Uruguay from 1936 to 1939. This period actually coincided with the first three years of activities of the AIAPE (Agrupación de Intelectuales, Artistas, Periodistas y Escritores) organizations in the Río de la Plata region. It was a time that saw the politicization of intellectuals and that, in Uruguay was marked by a dictatorship and the impact of the Spanish Civil War as well as the looming specter of the Second World War. Efforts were made to strengthen relationships with artists in other parts of the region, especially those in Argentina, through the establishment of regular conferences, courses, and exhibitions. Arzadun highlights some of the solo exhibitions that took place during that time, such as those by the sculptor Bernabé Michelena (1888–1963), “the most important exhibition of sculpture ever held in Montevideo;” and the Argentinian visual artists Horacio Butler (1897–1983), Demetrio Urruchúa (1902–78), Emilio Pettorutti (1892–1971), and Antonio Berni (1905–81). Berni founded the CTI (Confederación de Trabajadores Intelectuales) in Rosario, Argentina and exhibited his work in Montevideo (1938) at the invitation of the Círculo de Bellas Artes and the Sociedad de Amigos del Arte. Ideologically inspired anti-government bonds multiplied, as did unofficial exhibition spaces, such as the Ateneo de Montevideo which, among other events, organized the exhibition in support of Republican Spain, and hosted the one organized by the AIAPE for artistic movements that were not represented at the Salón Oficial. Arzadun applauds the Comisión Municipal de Exposiciones, referring to a long list of Uruguayan artists and the Commission’s policy to take selections from exhibitions so that they might be “shown in towns and villages” throughout Uruguay.
Moving on from his positive review of the above-mentioned efforts, Arzadun critiques the performance of the Ministerio de Instrucción Pública (Ministerio de Cultura) and the National Salons, inserting himself into the public debate against the juries. He also devotes considerable space in his article to the organization of the French exhibition De David a nuestros días, which he describes as “a revelation, an extraordinary success.” It should be noted that none of these adjectives are used in the rest of the article, which underscores the fact that French culture is still held in high regard in local cultural circles.