History of South America

And who was José Sabogal?

Peru was once a land of artists. The composers, writers, musicians and plastic artists that emerged in this country during the first half of the 20th century set the tone and trends of Latin American art or, alternatively, were always among the great names of intellectual and artistic production. Many of them came from the interior, as in the case of our biography today, a painter and essayist who is virtually unknown today, despite being among the best painters of his time at a national and international level. The little value that has been given to our artists over the years is today suffering its most critical hour, which is why we consider it important to rescue his memory through these publications. Today, on the 125th anniversary of his birth, let's talk a little about who José Arnaldo Sabogal Diéguez was :

He was born in Cajabamba, province of the department of Cajamarca, on March 19, 1888. At the young age of 9 he tried to escape to the coast but the mischievous boy he was intercepted by some friends of his parents.

At the age of 12 he met the sea; thanks to a scholarship that took him to a school in Trujillo. But after a few months he escaped from the boarding school and, in five days of walking, returned to his town. At the age of 16 he decided to travel the world, one more example of his adventurous and artistic spirit.

His teenage years were spent in the Chicama Valley, dreaming of traveling to Europe. At the age of 20, he embarked for Lima and a few days later, by way of Panama, he headed for Italy. In Rome he began his studies to be a painter with a passionate will.

he traveled through France and along the African coasts of Algeria and Morocco. He entered Spain and toured many peninsulas with the strange feeling of being or not being like that as a prodigal son of the brave Spanish land.

he left Europe on a sailing ship adventure, settled in Buenos Aires; he resumed his studies and ran pleasant and fertile bohemia with unforgettable art comrades. In the Argentine Andes of the North he did a profitable task of landscape and figure, with the natives, as an interesting motif.

He returned to Buenos Aires in transit to Europe, but the unprecedented beauty of the American Andes had a strong attraction for him and he planned to return to Peru, this time heading to Cusco. He made an unforgettable trip through the archaic magic that the Altiplano route, the Titicaca and the sacred Vilcamayo river operated on his sensitivity.

In Cusco he stopped for six months just to dedicate himself to painting, trying to interpret his character, his beautiful silver light and his golden “suns of the gentiles”. This Cusco land had a strong spell in the development of his subsequent work in Peru.

In Lima he exhibited his painted canvases in Cusco, on July 15, 1919, in a historic exhibition entitled Impressions of the Ccoscco, taking advantage of a backwater from the political storm of that hour. This pictorial sample showed the country from its most exotic angle. The Lima milieu saw with amazement these allegorical images of a Peru that he did not fully know, a country within another country, from the inspired lines of Sabogal.

Sabogal's early works, such as La primer misa (1919), showed the influence of regionalism that dominated both Spanish and Argentine painting. Sabogal promoted the rescue of themes of customs and the Peruvian landscape, portraying them in a style where vivid colors applied with a fluid brushstroke join a vigorous composition. His aesthetic, based on the demonstration of a certain technical crudeness, earned him the pejorative title of “painter of the ugly”. Sometimes reaching caricature, Sabogal's figurative stylizations condensed the ideas of vigor and strength under which his aesthetic proposal was defined. The painter's works manifest his form of expression through thick and vigorous very expressive strokes. His strong, almost static figures, with an Andean spirit, appear pleasant and original.

Starting in 1920, Sabogal taught at the Escuela Nacional Superior Autónoma de Bellas Artes del Perú. He was artistic director of the Amauta magazine, whose first issue, which appeared in 1926, bears a drawing of his authorship on the cover. Between 1932 and 1943, he served as director of this institution. Later, José Sabogal and Luis Eduardo Valcárcel founded the Free Institute of Peruvian Art at the National Museum of Peruvian Culture.

he Later he traveled to Mexico, where he coincided with strong and influential artistic movements that were taking place at that time in Aztec lands; and he returned from there with greater impetus to continue his pilgrimage as a painter through the Peruvian territory. In 1942 he was invited to the US, only to return to Mexico where his prestige had grown so much that he was considered a guest of the government, with great recognition from the local artist community.

Upon his return in 1943, he resumed his duties as Director of the National School of Fine Arts, but in July of the same year, urged by his concerns to paint, he opted by their own tasks.

In 1946 he accepted the friendly request of the Museum of Peruvian Culture to form the Institute of Peruvian Art. The six "Indigenist" painters who formed it investigated the Peruvian Arts of all times and formed the Museum of Popular Arts in the modern period.

His disciples include Camilo Blas, Enrique Camino Brent, Julia Codesido, Cota Carvallo, Jorge Segura, Aquiles Ralli, Gamaniel Palomino, Pedro Azabache Bustamante, Andrés Zevallos and Eladio Ruiz, all them great names of national painting. He also stood out as a writer and essayist, some of his main titles being published:Mates burilados:Peruvian vernacular art (1945), Pancho Fierro (1945), The bull in the popular arts of Peru (1949), El Kero, a painted wooden libation vessel from Cusco (1952), The attic of Peruvian imagery (1956), Art in Peru (1975).

On December 15, 1956, José Sabogal passed away. after two days of crisis. On his easel was left, unfinished, the portrait of a friend.