An artist trujillano in París

By Felipe Cossío del Pomar

When I met Macedonio de la Torre in Trujillo a few years ago, I saw a spark in his black eyes that indicated the burning cerebral activity of the chosen.

On my trips throughout the world, I have met several young men from this city so lacking in intellectual anxiety. Due to explainable ethnological caprices, these youngsters leave their native city where tradition has it that the glorious shinbone of Mr.Alonso Quijano is buried; this was the same individual who would tour a world of injustices under the name of Don Quijote de la Mancha. These young descendants of the rough and tumble conquerors of yesteryear left this carefree city with vibrant dreams and desires to demonstrate their exemplary natures to the world and were willing to joust for an ideal. I have met Haya de la Torre, Carlos Valderrama, César Vallejo, Alvaro Bracamonte and now this miraculous color artist who modestly signs his paintings with name reminiscent of the great Greek Macedonio.

At the time, I doubted that this young man from Trujillo would be able to fulfill his burning ambition to become a great painter. Accompanied by José Eulogio Garrido, who was responsible for driving the city’s intellectual activities, we walked through the city’s narrow streets and passageways that are lost in the scenery under the mid-day sun.

We walked through the desolate and anachronistic plaza, transformed into an English park by a philanthropic sugar cane planter. As we strolled through the brightly lit streets, we spoke of art in a city lulled to sleep by the heat of the day. We passed Moorish patios and rubbed up against the large windows lined with steel bars made by the hands of a volcanic and anonymous artist who had endeavored to defend the coffers of the man of the house or perhaps the honor of the home’s matron. We entered the University that was once a convent. The Republic had neither the strength nor the time to raise temples to new ideas. The theories of Diderot and D´ Alambert have resonances of liturgical services held in the cloistered vaults. As a symbol, an Indian with malaria is stretched out under the doorway; he is covered with a red poncho. We go on towards the Ranch. Under a purifying sun, a donkey trembles below its bright red sores; the chickens peck in the mud while a mulatto kicks his heavy-bellied and sobbing woman ...

This is the colonial life that beats both mestiza and lazy to the sound of the old bells as they ring in agony.

While viewing these “beautiful” sights, as Garrido calls them, we discuss esthetic problems: Chimu art, the future of Incan canons, etc.

The free impulse of Macedonio´s spirit would have diluted in this peaceful setting if the sculptor Moeller had not arrived and seen what José Eulogia had seen and perceived: that there was a great deal to expect from this artistic talent.

The Municipality decided to send its glorious promise to Europe. Today, if we have seen the Municipality’s enthusiasm diminish, we have seen our predictions confirmed.

I do not want to use confusing adjectives to qualify Macedonio´s talent and work. He did not attend the San Idelfonso Academy and the apologists from Lima did not call him an “illustrious” or “notable” painter, things that are of no importance to those of us who know journalism. Barren of the title of “macho” painter that has nothing to do with brushstrokes, Macedonio went off to Italy, toured Germany and is now in Paris. He is developing the formidable skills that heaven has bestowed upon him.

Confined to his modest studio in Montparnasse, Macedonio spent hours in laborious creation. Fleeing from the jugglers and the peasants drinking in the café in the Rotonda and all of this farcical atmosphere so encouraged by the Jews on the Rue de la Boetie, Macedonio works and studies while developing his own personality. This is how he has become one of the most formidable colorists. Like Utrillo, why not say it? Macedonio interprets the plazas of Paris, the shouting scenes in the markets and the tortuous streets of Montmarte as well as Urtillo and with exquisite sensitivity. Amongst my compatriots I know of none, except for Barreda, that is more familiar with the chromatic harmonies that the soul most freely experiences when in the countryside. At the last exhibition hall, his work has been noted and commented upon by the best critics. For now, Macedonio is in the balance of probabilities. If his feeble body can resist the brutal push of the struggle for life before the indifferent selfishness of his fellow countrymen that can help him, his name will shine with the splendor that fame gives to triumphant artists; if not, the story of poor painters that passed through life unnoticed will be repeated- individuals without an audience and observed in their misery by exploiters that, like turkey buzzards, throw themselves on their prey proclaiming a work’s value in order to profit from the plundering.

París, June 1928.