The first retrospective of indigenous Colombian artist Carlos Jacanamijoy begins on Thursday in Bogota.
Entitled “Magic, Memory, Color”, the exhibition will bring together 70 paintings from the period 1992 to 2013, many of which are massive abstract pieces evoking the feelings and colors and light of the southern jungles of Putumayo, where Jacanamijoy was born in 1964.
The curator of the exhibition, critic and historian Alvaro Medina, describes Jacanamijoy’s paintings as alluding to the “ancestral indigenous thought of the Ingas of Putumayo, the ethnicity to which the painter belonges.”
“Jacanamijoy is the painter of spiritual nature, of nature inhabited by the spirits that surge from the imagination of an agrarian society like the Inga… a people who have managed to preserve, despite Western interference, a series of ancestral beliefs and practices that deepen their roots in the night of time,” said Medina about the ‘magic’ alluded to in the exhibition’s title: “Magic, memory, color.”
The ‘memory’ comes from the painter’s “childhood memories, the farmer’s child who lived at one with the supernatural phenomena hidden in the undergrowth.” While the ‘color’ is seen in the “details of the jungle’s vegetation, from which emerge the presence of beings that the eyes cannot see despite their always being present, watching the good and the bad of man’s actions.”
Jacanamijoy’s paintings are mostly abstract, with splashes of color mingling softly with one another to mark a canvas without horizon, while occasional figures or objects suggest the jungle landscape or the forests of Putumayo. The resulting haze is linked by Medina to the pracitce of drinking “yage,” otherwise known as “ayahuasca”, a hallucinogenic brew that allegedly brings up long-buried memories of past misdemeanors and forces a confrontation, leading to a spiritual rebirth.
Drinking yage is a purification ritual for the Inga people.
The exhibition’s catalogue, written by Medina, contains a reproduction of each of the works, accompanied by a text analyzing how Jacanamijoy combines the flashes of memory that inspire the works with semblances of the reality of the place he wants to evoke: the wildlife and plantlife of Putumayo, his ancestral religion, and the life of the painter himself.
The retrospective will be on show until November 8th in Bogota’s Modern Art Museum. There will also be a series of conferences about Jacanamijoy’s work and the indigenous world, in which several prominent critics and historians will participate, including Medina and the artist himself.
- Retrospectiva de Carlos Jacanamijoy muestra lo mejor de su arte numinoso (El Espectador)
- Carlos Jacanamijoy (Wikipedia)
- Ayahuasca (Wikipedia)
- Carlos Jacanamijoy official site