NOUN a term that refers to a broad grouping of discourses—in politics, the social sciences, literature, and the arts—concerned with the status of “the Indian” in Latin American societies.
ORIGIN Spanish 'indigenous', from the Latin indigena
During his time abroad in the late 1920s, Mérida frequently played the role of the “native” artist, which earned him the approval from Parisian and New York critics. These critics believed that Mérida’s ethnicity—his being Maya, descended from an indigenous people in Guatemala—endowed him with an innate artistic ability. By identifying Mérida's works with indigenismo, however, they overlooked the many international movements that influenced his art.
Mérida himself believed that Surrealism and abstraction in European art had been inspired by non-European, ethnographic art. Did this belief justify his willingness to cater to the whims of the art critics? Or was his willingness at odds with his goal of freeing indigenous art from colonialist stereotypes?