The Peruvian art critic and cultural journalist Alfonso La Torre (alias, Seymour 1927-2003) interviews Eva Lewitus, who at the time was the director of the “Foto Art” studio in Lima.
In 1977, a collection of folk art was sent to the XIV Bienal de São Paulo as Peru’s sole contribution to the event. The biennial’s organizing committee had invited Peru to participate as part of the “Anthological Exhibitions,” one of the event’s three sections, whose objective, according to the rules, was to show works that would “reflect a participant’s cultural and artistic past” through works by a recognized artist or a collection of works from a particular movement, period, or place.” [XIV Bienal Internacional de São Paulo (São Paulo: Prefeitura do Municipio, Governo do Estado, Governo Federal, 1977), pp. 3 y 8]. In Peru, however, it was thought that the INC (Instituto Nacional de Cultura del Perú) had specified the nature of the shipment. This misunderstanding revived the controversy that had arisen in late 1975 when the same Peruvian institution granted the art prize or Premio Nacional de Cultura to the folk artist Joaquín López Antay (1897−1981), a retablista who created traditional altarpieces. What happened in the case of the São Paulo biennial once again prompted a group of “highbrow” visual artists (or those with greatest access to the market) to air their complaints, on the grounds that the so-called “arts and crafts” were not real works of art and that the INC was blocking the development of true art.
Born in what was then Czechoslovakia, the photographer Eva Lewitus (b. 1927) had lived in Peru since 1940. She specialized in portraits and was known for her photographs of theatrical scenes. She worked with the noted Peruvian actor Ricardo Roca Rey (1920−85), the Asociación de Artistas Aficionados, the Escuela Nacional de Arte Escénico, the Club de Teatro, and the Lima Theater Workshop, among others.
[Regarding this Brazilian event, please see the following texts in the ICAA digital archive: “Protesta contra INC manifiestan plásticos” (no author) (855211); “Perú: a presença da arte popular” by Leslie Lee (857190); “Populismo inframarxista” (855232) and “¿Autenticidad o exotismo?” (855918), both by Francisco Abril de Vivero; “Humillados y ofendidos” by Ismael Pinto (855252); “El Perú en la Bienal de Sao Paulo” by Jorge Caillaux (855937); “Presidente de Bienal de Sao Paulo elogia participación peruana” (no author) (855956); and “Arte popular do Peru: 14a. Bienal Internacional de São Paulo ’77” (no author) (857172)].