Teodoro Ramírez (Ayacucho, 1964). He currently lives in the district of Huaycán. Ate. At the age of nine he entered the CEO “La Libertad” altarpiece workshop with the master Julio Urbano Rojas, participated in Popular Art contests, national and international exhibitions with works such as “Pobrechalla Campesino”, “Paradigmas”, “Uchuraccay”, “Exhumation”, “Pacha Mama”, “Water Festival” etc. Currently he is dedicated to teaching and producing ceramics and altarpieces. He won the National Altarpiece Contest with “Pobrechalla Campesino” in 1987. He participated in a group exhibition “When grief becomes art” on human rights in Nuremberg, Germany. He works on issues on the Armed Conflict and memory. His last exhibition was “La Barbarie y la Esperanza: The latent altarpieces of Teodoro Martínez” at the Centro Cultural de Bellas Artes. He is currently a teacher at the National School of Fine Arts.


about arts

I was very young when I first saw an altarpiece. I was able to see scenes of peasants, their experiences and their customs. I really liked it because the altarpiece is an art in which many things are captured at the same time. As an adult, art became a medium to convey controversial issues, where I could put social situations into images to generate reflection. Being an artist gives me great satisfaction because it is not an imposition, it is the opposite of following a fashion.

The artist has to know what he wants to do and what he wants to convey through an artistic object. Now, art is a means of expression with which I have a lot of responsibility to tell the history of Peru

On the altarpiece

When I lived in Ayacucho I was 9 years of age and the school teacher took the whole class to a job training program. “You can do job training,” he said. Half a block from the school was a craft school. There they gave classes in ceramics, cabinetmaking, altarpieces, and many workshops. Several children and I stayed to learn, others went just for the grade. I enrolled and did 3 years of altarpiece. I never thought it would become a way of life. I continued because I liked it. At 15 I said “I’m going to work and live off the altarpiece.” Later, out of necessity, I went to Huancayo and for 4 years I did not make any altarpieces. I tried but couldn’t find enough material. I returned to Ayacucho and just started creating.

At 17 and 18 years of age, folkloric themes, crops and popular festivals. That is, crafts for tourists. Although I was not very good, I had to improve quickly because I had to sell to survive. I copied from the masters and added images from my childhood, such as in the fields with my parents or when I bartered with the neighbors; in that way I formed my own style and little by little I left my references behind.

My life

My work portrays the armed conflict of the 80s in Ayacucho. I was in the middle of the conflict, I had direct testimonies, I had both senderistas and military friends. I don’t understand why more people didn’t do the same, I imagine out of fear. I wasn’t very brave either, since I was very young and I guess I didn’t even think  about what could happen to me.

At 19 I already had diplomas and certificates as an altarpiece artisan. During that time there were very interesting national competitions. At the age of 21, I won 2nd place on a provincial level with an altarpiece entitled “Yawar Fiesta” and 1st place on a national level with “Lamento campesino”. This was a 4-story altarpiece depicting the murder of Uchuraccay [1] . I sensed that this last job was important.

Several people wanted to buy the altarpiece “Pobrechalla campesino”[2] a seller of airline tickets, a merchant, a restaurant owner; but I wanted to sell it to a person who would have the altarpiece in a public space for people to see. So when they offered me a price I always asked: Where do you plan to place it? It happens that one day a gringo came to the exhibition. He asked me many questions, such as: Where was my workshop? What was I doing? One of those days he went to my workshop and took many photos of all the altarpieces and I don’t know what went through my head that I said: Mister, I’ll sell you the altarpiece. He asked: How much? I gave him a price and he said: Yes! But how can I take it away? Is it very fragile? I quickly took accounts in my head and said: Let’s do something, I’ll sell it to you and I’ll take it to your house. The man was surprised and paid for the flight to Lima. I arrived in Lima, he lived in Miraflores, he opened the door and said: Please, bring it inside. I went inside something similar to a warehouse, there he had carved mattes, tapestries, ceramics with very good finishes. I never asked him what he did; later I thought that he must have worked in a museum or was a collector. That happened in 1988.

In the 90s I came to Lima to work. I worked in security at Aero Peru, it was a Military Association. I settled in Miraflores. There I had no contact with artisans, it was like living in a bubble, I isolated myself. So I left the subject about the conflict.

Suddenly in 2004, my sister called me from Ayacucho and said: “Do you remember the gringo Rainer (Huhle)[3] the German?” He is looking for you. It so happened that Rainer gave a conference on human rights at the National University of Huamanga and a neighbor who had attended the conference gave him my contact. He traveled to Lima and we met, he asked me what are you doing? I didn’t know what to answer him. Rainer told me: Teodoro, your work participated in this exhibition. The exhibition was called “When grief becomes art.” While in Peru the delivery of bodies was carried out in Ayacucho; in Nuremberg, Germany there was an exhibition of popular art by artists who had not kept quiet during Peru’s bloodiest events. There, I just learned that Rainer was a human rights activist. 

I felt happy, my work together with other works, which just came to light.

In my work I explicitly denounced both the terrucos. [4] and the military, it was a real and sensitive testimony, that was what I have always wanted.

[1] On January 26, 1983, journalists Willy Retto, Jorge Luis Mendívil Trelles, Eduardo de la Piniella, Octavio Infante, Amador García, Pedro Sánchez, Félix Gavilán, and Jorge Sedano Falcón arrived at the remote Ayacucho community of Uchuraccay where they were murdered.

[2] http://www.menschenrechte.org/peru_ausstellung/transfondo.htm

[3] https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/CED/RainerHuhle.pdf

[4] Apelativo que se refiere a los Terroristas. Seguidores de Sendero Luminoso

About terrorism

I am a survivor of terrorism, I was neither a military man, nor a terrorist, nor a snitch, I was a simple citizen. How many nearby attacks, uf! from which I have been saved. I have been lucky. In those years at any moment you were in the middle of a raid, you were imprisoned, they accused you and then you turned up dead. I have had friends and family victims of terrorism. At that time, the population was divided, some joined Sendero Luminoso, others were against it. Young people of 18, 19 years of age who spoke very seriously about politics and current affairs. I would ask them:

Why do you burst the lightpoles if it affects us all in a negative way? In those days children could not study, neither could workers, I worked with a lit candle ”. Why don’t they go against their enemy directly? I asked, they replied, “We have to destroy this whole system.”

I mean, their goal was to destroy everything and build from scratch, they literally didn’t care about anything. Then, I thought: That wasn’t it, I think that the poorer and more desperate peasants were, the more they would bend to the ranks of Sendero, it was a maliciouscalculation. A plan full of errors. On another occasion, I asked them: Why do they kill leaders, governors, lieutenants, and even pastors? They answered: “Because they support the system.” For Sendero, only its form of government and its politics mattered. Seeing that, the same peasants created the peasant rounds without the help of the military, they “ate the cake.” In the face of the chaos they had to defend themselves, that caused Iquicha and Uchuraccay.

On the other hand, they had visible and irrefutable arguments. For example; They said “Look, that peasant who is working as a porter! Do you think there is a future for him? We are fighting for him. ” “Look! those children don’t study; they are never going to study anything, because they barely have enough to eat ”. And the terrible thing was that many times it was a cruel truth; poverty was raw and huge, everywhere. Without a doubt for me, the eighties was the most horrible and raw period in Peruvian republican history.


As a child when you go to school, they tell you that San Martin was the liberator, a patriot who liberated several countries. In effect, he freed the country from the tyranny of colonialism, but in depth San Martin, as a character, also had his own political interests.

There were many interests from European countries to finance the wars of independence. For this reason, the image of San Martin is an icon more registered in official history, but unlike other martyrs it does not seem to me that he has been the most heroic because there are and were other anonymous martyrs who gave their lives for freedom and helped various invisible communities. They deserve our respect.

About indigenous communities

The indigenous communities have survived and perhaps are a reference to recognise us as a country. They are living cultures that continue to be denied citizenship in different parts of Latin America, that is the great reason why the communities try to continue together to continue fighting and claiming their right to citizenship.