Golden fields: the shimmering tapestries of Olga de Amaral | In progress
It’s tempting to seek out the inspirations behind Olga de Amaral’s weavings – tangible things like landscapes, textiles, and other types of tapestries. But de Amaral’s work, pieces of linen that sparkle with gold or silver leaf, is a world apart. Comparisons can be made with basketry and weaving traditions in the artist’s native Colombia. But de Amaral doesn’t work in a specific tradition, although she noted inspirations in the past like a pre-Columbian gold mantle she saw in a museum in Peru. She also does not plan her designs, which incorporate geometric patterns, preferring a more organic and spontaneous approach. âWhen I do them, I don’t think about all of these things,â said de Amaral. Pasatiempo. âI don’t think about the models or the way I do it. For me, what is important is the emotion and the idea behind it. When you hold a pencil in your hand and start drawing, you don’t think.
The recent work of De Amaral, Pozos Azules (Blue Wells), is exhibited at Bellas Artes, where she has exhibited her tapestries since 1986. Pozos Azules retains the gold leaf and golden paint that have become his signatures. An installation called Field of stelae hangs from the London office of BGC Partners, Inc. The stelae are arranged to take advantage of available light, and the metallic surfaces, gold on one side and silver on the other, sparkle and change as the light changes. For Pozos Azules, de Amaral has fashioned two-tone weavings, games of blue and gold. Each piece is a diptych with a thin space between each panel of the work that takes on depth as the surfaces of the panels change, depending not only on the light but on the viewer’s position. The title of the series refers to water and its dazzling and reflective qualities. âFor me, it’s the mystery of water when it’s in a pond and how it moves. What intrigues me is how the water, when it comes from the middle and is limited by a circle, forms a fantastic and mysterious pattern. Pozos AzulesThe mix of blue and gold captures a sensation of light dancing on the surface of the water. âFor me, it’s the sun, which is just light, and it’s as mysterious as water. I feel the colors. When I did the first one, it was magical to keep doing them because everyone is different, like [each body of] water is. “In addition to Pozos Azules, by Amaral shows a work of a similar series in red and gold called rojos soles (Red Suns) and an early 1976 work recently acquired by Bellas Artes from a corporate collection.
Although many of his pieces are monochrome, some of his works are enhanced by underlays of color that shine through here and there, adding more dimension to the pieces. âFor me, the process is a very magical situation. I am very aware that the back of the artwork keeps some sort of secret, so I paint the backs of the tapestries.
Circular and rectangular configurations appear in each work, but there are variations between them. Pozo Azul 10, for example, is dominated by circular shapes (semicircles on each panel), and the rift in the center prevents the shapes from aligning precisely. Concentric lines emanate outward from the center to the edges. Circles in Pozo Azul 3, on the other hand, are framed by a series of concentric lines in a rectangular pattern.
A 2003 lecture-presentation, âThe House of My Imagination,â which de Amaral gave at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, was a rare opportunity to see his process, including working with a number of skilled assistants. who have accompanied him for many years. âThe community process permeates every bundle of strands of the spirit of the life of each of these women; each element acquires a unique patina, just like the button on the door of a frequented room, âshe writes in the accompanying catalog of the conference. âThis team of weavers, this place, is my strongest and deepest connection to my country. For me, they embody Colombia.
De Amaral and his assistants coat the hand-woven threads with gesso to fill in the gaps in the weaves. The fiber strands are also coated by hand using ground pigments. Despite the layers of paint and gold leaf, the warp and weft are retained and clearly visible in the finished pieces. The tapestries are designed to hang in front of the wall rather than hanging flush with the walls, creating a space around them that gives them a sculptural presence and lightness as they appear to float right in front of the walls.
The flickering light effects are sometimes achieved through paint rather than gold leaf. Paint is an integral part, as are raw linen and cotton threads which react differently to weaving, with linen providing structural tension for the softer cotton. âIt’s like a canvas for a painter,â said De Amaral. “It’s my own canvas.” ??
?? Olga de Amaral: Pozos Azules
Bellas Artes, 653 Canyon Road, 983-2745