Biography. Part III

(1920 - 1930)
Marriage and Stay in Europe

Macedonio´s years in Europe put him into direct contact with the great masters of impressionism, particularly Edouard Manet (1832-1883), Claude Monet (1840-1926), Edgar Degas (1834-1917), Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), Paul Cézanne (1839-1906), Camille Pissarro (1831-1903), Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), Alfred Sisley (1839-1899), Paul Gaugin (1848-1903)and Henri Matisse (1869-1954). These individuals enormously influenced the last third of the XIXth century thanks to their reactions against the neoclassic spirit and the proposals imposed on painting by the second Renaissance, the Italian-French school of Fontainbleu and the century of Louis the XVIIth. Impressionism had resolutely distanced itself from mythology, academic allegories, historical painting and the neo-Greek elements of classicism, as well as German and Spanish romanticism. This movement, characterized by a tenacious plastic position that permitted almost nothing beyond immediate vision and a firm resolve to deny a place to philosophies and symbols, heavily influenced the first three decades of the XXth century. Most certainly, impressionism abounded with excellent representations of new discoveries in the genre of landscape painting. Within this vast artistic current, Macedonio concentrated his study on the techniques of the pointalists- Georges-Pierre Seurat (1859-1891), Paul Signac (1863-1935) and Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947). The influence of Bonard can be seen in various of Macedonio´s paintings, although said works are dominated by the repentist form so characteristic our painter´s work. Of all of his European experiences, Macedonio was particularly impacted by his study of Van Gogh´s oil paintings, which boasted intensely warm and ardent colors that were applied through an adept use of a spatula. Macedonio used this instrument with persistent frequency, in particular in his scenes of wide expanses of plant landscapes of foliage in full bloom; it was here that he practiced the spontaneity so characteristic of Max Ernst (1891-1976) and the surrealists. Nevertheless, as we will see later, we can also detect the strong presence of Italian artists in Macedonio´s work, some of whom include: Umberto Boccioni (1882-1916), who led the anti-academic painting movement, Giovanni Segatini (1858-1899), the futurist Gino Severini (1883-1966) and Telémaco Signorini (1835-1901). Amongst the Germans who influenced our artist’s work, we have: Paul Baum (1859-1932) and Lovis Corinth (1858-1925), the expressionist Emil Nolde (1867-1956) and the artists of the Die Brüke tendency (“El Puente”) that were associated with expressionism and fauvism.

House on Arco Street, on the Jirón Orbegoso, where the Arco Pension in which Cesar Vallejo lived is located.

Ospedaje de Cesar Vallejo

These artists left an indelible mark upon Macedonio´s work, and the artist was persistent in intensely seeking out new plastic techniques with his characteristic spontaneity. The artist kept said spontaneity far from systematic enquiries and formal studies, demonstrating a non-intellectual attitude that was intuitive and exclusively committed to what he considered beautiful. These seven years in Europe, part of a decade that was as well known for producing world class art as the period between wars that saw the birth of successive tendencies and strong pictorial personalities, were key to setting Macedonio´s plastic life into motion. His time in Lima also fed the roots of his art, although this process would be subsequently subject to the painter´s natural endeavors at exploration. Macedonio´s established his own profile in Peru, which was marked by personal discoveries that identify and differentiate his work.

During these years in Europe, and particularly Paris, Macedonio met up with intellectuals from Peru and Trujillo who were forging ahead in their work and living the meager life of starving artists. In 1923, Macedonio met with his fellow countryman and member of the bohemian circle from Trujillo, César Vallejo, in Paris; Vallejo had been residing in this city since 1923. The poet lived in the Hotel “Richelieu” with Henriette Maisse, and was in the process of sending contributing articles to Variedades, a magazine publication in Lima. Vallejo frequented the Montparnasse and the La Régence cafes, and was employed by the Bureau des Grands Journaux Iberoaméricains. Vallejo also cultivated a friendship with noteworthy artists such as Juan Gris and Juan Larrea, who edited two editions of the magazine Favorables that were published in Paris in 1926. The poet also knew Vicente Huidobro, Pablo Abril de Vivero and others who constituted the Spanish and American enclave of the French capital. Macedonio lived in Paris from 1927-1930. During this period, his friend Vallejo wrote intensively and separated from Henriette to begin a relationship with Georgette Philippart. The poet traveled to Brittany and twice to the Soviet Union. He also visited Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Italia. He contributed to El Comercio in Lima, and reedited Trilce with a prologue by José Bergamín and a poem by Gerardo Diego. At the end of December 1930, French authorities identified Vallejo as a communist sympathizer, reason for which the poet abandoned France with Georgette to live in Spain. During his stay in Paris, Macedonio also saw his cousin Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre, Gonzalo and Carlos More, Osmán del Barco, Alfonso de Silva, Juan Luis Velásquez, Demetrio Tello, Percy Gibson, José Félix Cárdenas Castro, Felipe Cossío del Pomar, Julio Gálvez Orrego and many others. Soon after his arrival in Paris in 1927, Macedonio attended art classes taught by the painter Emile Antoline Bourdelle (1861-1929) in the Academia de la Grande Cháumiere. The artist keenly observed the principle pictorial works of the most important museums in the city, in particular the Louvre, the Artes Decoratives and the Luxemburg, and participated in the intense cultural life of the period. Macedonio wrote both about his experiences during this period and the environment in which these developed in his text “Infierno Feudal,” which is included in Ernesto More´s book: Vallejo en la Encrucijada del Drama Peruano. This text is reproduced in this book’s appendix.