My work is a visual expression that comes from within, from my Peruvian roots. After a long journey, I have turned back in on myself and followed, vibrant with ambiguity, the invisible traces of a past that has never died: footprints from afar, immense deserts, high mountain ranges, the high seas, huge finely carved stones, mud, dust, and wind. My paintings stem from a need to decipher an enigmatic alphabet of a living culture that I recognize as mine and that gives me my identity. I try to recover the world to which I belong through lyrical and intimate compositions that help overcome the pain of destruction, as a way to regain and restore dignity.
My work also represent an identification with the past in the form of a question, with the need to unveil the mysteries of a world in which the ancient Peruvians found their own identity as a culture and a harmonious relation with nature and the “soul of the universe”. It is part of the never-ending quest for cultural identity of the Peruvian people. At an exhibit I had in Switzerland, a Peruvian man approached me and said “Your work makes me proud to be Peruvian”. That has a deeper meaning to those of my generation. I began exploring pre-Columbian art in the 1990s, years of tremendous political violence in Peru. Confronted with death in daily life, explosions of cars packed with dynamite, and the anguish of having a journalist husband covering the war made me paint with frenzy paintings full of bright colors. Later I realized that that was my answer to death: the celebration of life. The extraordinary cultural legacy of the ancient Peruvians can help, perhaps, to create a sense of unity in today’s highly divided Peruvian society.
When people look at works of mine inspired by the golden splendors and rows of precious metal squares found in the tombs of the ancient Lord of Sipán, they sometimes think they see traces of Klimt. Indeed, it was only when modern art became widely understood that we were able to see the “modernity”, the expressive simplicity, the playfulness, the economy, the stylization of pre-Columbian art. (Paracas and Chancay cultures remind us of modern expressionist and surrealist art; there are traces of primitive art in the works of Klee and Miro. The Huari designs recall the abstract geometric art of Mondrian. The huge geometric designs divided into fields of vibrant colors of the Huari culture also leads us to the so called field artists, like Rothko. One can see the suprematist Malevich and the pure celebration of geometry in the Inca mantels.)
When I paint, I can almost feel the mud friezes of the Citadel of Chan Chan, the threads of filigree of the Huari textiles, the stunning pectorals of the Lord of Sipán, the Nazca lines carved in the desert, the colors of the sacred vases of the Incas, the huge and perfectly cut stones of Machu-Picchu,. These timeless works have taken me, with invisible threads to color and lines, color and squares and circles of a modern pictorial vision. But then, I have retraced my steps and filled those squares with primitive and outlined figures, traced hundreds of lines that took me back to woven filigrees, painted hundreds of golden and silver squares that claim to belong to an ancient king. But the mud, stone, sand, gold and threads have been transformed, have risen again to create a sense of unity, a simplified totality.
My work is indeed rooted and inspired in the timeless aesthetic legacy of pre-Columbian art and its strikingly modern vocabulary and grammar for exploring a narrative beyond time and space.
The rich colors and the splendor of the ancient Peruvian textiles, achieved when the camelid fibers absorbed the dyes, made me find silk to be the right fiber now to celebrate sheer color and geometry. Silk lets the color flow, shimmer, vibrate, and the resist technique allows me to recreate the audacious abstract geometric shapes, the outlined figures of ancient textiles. Silk allows me, using metallic and silk paint to develop textures, to intertwine layers of golden and silver threads. With silk I can mount colors in frames, play with light and shade. Silk also allows me to work as if I were working on canvas or wood, making incisions and carving. I can use sand and gold and silver leaf. Silk, a noble and strong fiber, has no boundaries.