Yllanes, Alejandro Mario (1913–1960) By Ramos, Imma
Alejandro Mario Yllanes was a Bolivian Aymara painter, engraver, and muralist. His art career began with an exhibition in his hometown of Oruro in 1930, when he was nineteen years old. Shortly afterwards he moved to La Paz, where he worked as an illustrator for the periodical Semana Grafica, during which time he became acquainted with the artists Arturo Borda and Cecilio Guzmán de Rojas. All three Bolivian artists were influenced by the so-called indigenism or indigenismo movement, which gained momentum in Latin America from the 1920s onwards. The movement was characterized by the promotion of national pride and a nostalgic celebration of the Inca and pre-Columbian past, as reflected in literature and the visual arts. Yllanes was driven by a desire to encourage a spirit of community amongst the native Bolivians, and his works often portray locals in traditional Andean dress, carrying out pre-conquest rituals and customs. His incorporation of styles and techniques influenced by Post-Impressionism, Cubism, and Mexican Muralism show his engagement with modernist trends. The latter movement was headed by Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros. Their socio-political art—inspired by the Mexican Revolution—fueled Yllanes’s own work, which he combined with a rootedness to local narrative and materials.