The exhibition 20 Artistas Brasileños, which opened in October 1945 in Montevideo, featured works by contemporary Brazilian painters such as: Tarsila Do Amaral (1886–1973), Alberto da Veiga Guignard (1896–1962), José [Giuseppe Giannini] Pancetti (1902–58), Sérgio Camargo (1914–94), [Emiliano Augusto Cavalcanti de Paula Albuquerque e Melo] Di Cavalcanti (1897–976), and Candido Portinari (1903–62), among many others. Two years later, when Portinari arrived in Montevideo, he found a complex cultural environment in which different aesthetic movements had become intertwined because the relationship between art and politics had stirred heated debate and inflamed tensions in the field of the visual arts. Social realist painters and exponents of the modernist discourse embraced the Brazilian painter when he arrived in the Uruguayan capital; comrades in the PCU (Partido Comunista Uruguayo) and members of the AIAPE all offered him their unconditional support. Those with different political beliefs and visual artists who did not agree with Portinari, on the other hand, dismissed his painting and artistic work. Portinari advocated a form of “politicized realist art”—to be determined according to nationalist models—that would create a style that was compatible with modernity. This style should hew closely to the ideological, economic, and political circumstances of its surroundings. In the Brazilian painter’s opinion, art expresses the fundamental aspects of the human condition. We can refer to the ideas of Giordano Bruno (1548–1600) or G. W. Hegel and see the concept of “freedom of art” as the point where the two converge on a particular line of thought: where art promises the viewer a profoundly realist view of truth. The concepts of “freedom,” “beauty,” and “feeling” are therefore the results of the “reality” that is an intrinsic aspect of art. At that time, in the aftermath of the Second World War, the Comisión Nacional de Bellas Artes thought it inappropriate to support a form of politicized realism along the lines of Portinari’s “modern styles and ideas.”
[As complementary reading see, in the ICAA digital archive, the following articles about Cândido Portinari by the Brazilian critic Mário Pedrosa: (untitled) [A pintura mural de autoria de Cândido Portinari] (1110857); “A Missa de Portinari” (1075493); and “Portinari,” by Afonso Arinos de Melo Franco (1110887)].