Biography. Part IV

(1930 - 1981)
Life in Lima , Stay in New York (1959 - 1960)

Macedonio also directed much effort towards plant fantasy pieces that appear to be dreams of foliage and coral submerged in transparent waters. In other paintings, dark colors predominate- sepia, black or red ochres- in which colossal structures are discernable that bring to mind the powerful Incan constructions that Macedonio contemplated during a trip to Cuzco in 1927; or shadowy mountains that surprise us with their gloominess given that he generally preferred warm and vivacious tones.

But it was in his “jungles” that Macedonio found many of his highest plastic moments given that this topic allowed him to give free reign to his passion for and inebriation with color. It was here, in apparent chaos and full throttle repentism, that the painter spilled out his colors upon a white surface in search of this thicket of trunks, branches, leaves and flowers so identified with the painter´s name.

Portrait painting was an area that Macedonio mastered less. Generally, he painted his portraits from the waist up and facing forward although he did vary this position in some pieces, as was the case in his portraits of his children, which he drew in pencil while the children were youngsters in Europe. Although he was not a master in this genre and professed no particular predilection for portrait painting, some of the pieces demonstrate an interesting closeness with the subject, who often gives off an aura of melancholy and mystery. As such, Macedonio possessed a strange artistic sensitivity towards his human subjects; his respect and perhaps even astonishment are reflected in his brushstrokes.

His extreme vitality also led him to decorate trivial objects such as buttons and other surfaces; the consistency and the quality of the material were not important to him. In his perpetual anxiety to structure shapes, he utilized bones, wood and crustaceans that he had found on solitary beaches and in gardens. He made esthetic objects from these materials- crucifixes, virgins, animals- that he eventually exhibited on a number of occasions. It is evident that this search for significance and beauty in the simpler and disposable things in life constituted an approximation to the aspirations of Pop-Art. The poet Julio Garrido Malaver reminded us of this ability in his recounting of how he once accompanied the painter on a walk along the beaches of Huanchaco at sunset. He described how Macedonio had abruptly stopped and exclaimed: “ Neither painting nor poetry, Julio! How little we artists can accomplish when compared with nature!” Garrido Malver began to reflect upon the works of human genius and managed to calm the situation somewhat until Macedonio, observing some rocks, said: “Ask me Julio, ask me to create something with these rocks!” And the poet Garrido jokingly replied: “Create an image of Napoleon as a prisoner at Saint Helen.” Macedonio asked Garrido to turn around and not watch. After a few minutes, the painter called Garrido to come closer. Much to the poet’s surprise, he saw an effigy of Napoleon in one of his characteristic stances….hand above his chest.

Macedonio de la Torre with his son’s father in law, Mr. Julio de la Piedra.

The painter and his nanny, Elvira Bermejo Alvarado.

Regarding the exhibitions of Macedonio´s art in Lima, the 1950´s and 1960´s were the most intense periods given that in the prior decade only two exhibits had taken place: in 1942, an individual held a the Society “Entre Nous,” and in 1944, a collective exhibit that won the First Prize in The Watercolor Room. Of the most important exhibits in the 1950´s, the most notable include his individual exhibits at the Galería de Lima in 1954, and the exhibitions in 1956 and 1957 in the Instituto de Arte Contemporáneo (IAC).

From the sixties, we will mention his individual exhibits in 1962, 1963, 1965 and 1967 in the Instituto Cultural Peruano-Norteamericano, and his exhibit in 1965 at the Asociación Artística y Cultural “Jueves”, where he included sculptures made of animal bones, rocks and shrubs. Nevertheless, his most notable exhibition was the “Retrospective Exposition of Macedonio de la Torre” organized by the Museo de Arte de Lima in December of 1968, which brought together 136 pieces amongst oil paintings, watercolor drawings and sculptures. This artistic event allowed for an overall vision of Macedonio´s work over a half a century. In the last decade of his life, he held an exhibition in the art gallery of the Casa del Moral de Arequipa – organized in September of 1976 by the Banco Industrial of Peru- as well as the homage paid to the artist two years after his death in November-December of 1983 at the First biennial exhibition of Contemporary Art of Trujillo. This exposition consisted of a selection of Macedonio´s work from the Casa Ganoza-Chopitea. A poster of this competition used a reproduction of the artist’s oil painting the “Campiña de Moche” (1930).

Macedonio, slight of figure and somewhat more stooped at the end of his days, spoke hurriedly and nervously as he walked around the center of Lima. He gesticulated with his hands and his sunny and caring disposition were apparent; he smiled and flashed his black eyes as he strolled along Moquegua street and Union street and admired his favorite churches, amongst which was the La Merced, where he visited the wall where the cross carried by the venerable Friar Pedro Urraca(1583-1657)was hung. Here he met with a large group of devotees to the Friar that had come to give thanks for answered petitions. Macedonio went to this church not only because he was a fervent believer, but also because this venerated religious figure was his distant relative.

Although now eighty years old, Macedonio still used public transport. He often took the dilapidated buses on the Cocharcas-Jose Leal line, which left him close to homes of friends and relatives with whom he whittled away the hours in lively conversation or a game of cards; this was, of course, after he had finished his daily painting routine consisting in hours of diligent production. He himself pointed out: “ I liken my painting to how a child is born: playing and perhaps crying are witnessed in the same shove..... When I start, my hand burns with the colors, but this leaves nothing for the next day; I don´t let my hand cool down.”