Exhibition | The Invisible Forest | at Gallery 46 | London | Art Week

The Invisible Forest

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Thursday, 30 May 2019 to Saturday, 29 June 2019
Thursday, 30 May 2019 -
6:30pm to 9:00pm

Gallery 46 presents The Invisible Forest, an exhibition of paintings by renowned Native Peruvian-Amazonian artists realised by London-based author and curator Patsy Craig, as part of her Flourishing Diversity Series.

Launched in 2018, the Flourishing Diversity Series was created by Craig in collaboration with the Centre for the Anthropology of Sustainability at the University College London, and the UK-registered conservation charity Synchronicity Earth. The project aims at developing cultural platforms to help amplify Indigenous world-views and establish improved models of environmental leadership.

“At this point in time when our civilisation is faced with the devastating effects of human caused climate crisis, I believe that the leadership of Indigenous peoples, as stewards, caretakers and protectors of the earth, is crucial to achieving a stable future for all.

I envision this future built upon solutions that actively affirm, incorporate and uphold the knowledge and rights of Indigenous peoples.” Patsy Craig

The Invisible Forest aims to address geopolitical and environmental issues of our time by celebrating cultural traditions that enrich and perpetuate healthy biodiversity as the means to ensure mutual flourishing. These Indigenous ‘wisdom traditions’ are recognised for their sustainable ideology and sophisticated understanding of our interdependence on the Earth System.

The majority of the artists featured in the show are from Amazonia – a vast, rugged, beautifully diverse expanse that is integral to the Earth System’s ecological well-being and yet has been continuously invaded by numerous resource exploitation interests.

Within this setting, the region’s original custodians are under threat despite significant studies demonstrating a strong correlation between the last remaining, relatively intact forests and the presence of Indigenous peoples. Informed assessments of the current global climate crisis affirm that Indigenous environmental stewardship perpetuates biodiversity which ensures inter species flourishing, yet it remains a struggle for Indigenous peoples to uphold their rights, maintain their cultural traditions, and preserve their ancestral knowledge and lands.

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Brus Rubio

Artist in residence A self-taught painter and descendant of the original peoples of Huitoto and Bora, of the Peruvian Amazon, Brus Rubio was born in 1984, in the community of Pucaurquillo, located in the basin of the Ampiyacu River in Loreto, Peru. As a child, he heard fantastic stories from his parents while at the farm fishing or talking at home in the dark Amazonian nights. These stories sustained his sensitivity to nature and fed his imagination about the great mysteries of life. In 2002, Rubio met the anthropologist Jürg Gasché, who was conducting cultural studies based on the ancestors and sages of his people. For the next three years together with Gasché, he spent time in the maloca, listening and learning from their knowledge, their songs, stories and their great wisdom. During this period, he also grew to understand the researcher’s way of learning, Western anthropological thinking, and reflexive criticism. This experience taught him about his own culture and about the importance of dialoguing and interacting with different cultures. It was during those years that Rubio began to paint and he soon discovered his passion for painting as a way to express the infinite richness of mythology, history and the culture of his people. Eventually his style evolved so as to communicate moredirectly with a non- indigenous audience, but each new painting took him back to the maloca to continue learning from the wise and to immortalise their wealth.

Roldan Pinedo

Roldan Pinedo is a Shipibo artist from the community of San Francisco, in the district of Yarinacocha of the central Peruvian Amazon. Born on March 30, 1971, his name inShipibo is Shoyan Shëca, the same name given to his grandfather meaning restless mouse. His paintings are steeped in Shipibo mythology representing his visions with ayahuasca and the environment of the Amazon, the complex richness of its flora and fauna. Pinedo is largely self-taught and has participated in numerous exhibitions in Peru and abroad. Early on in his career, Pinedo was invited to Lima by the renowned historian Dr. Pablo Macera as part of a team of painters from different regions of Peru. Dr. Maceda famously provided Pinedo, his wife Elena Valera, and other Indigenous artists with a context in which to produce paintings of the animals and plants of the jungle, as well as the customs and experiences of his people. They were the first from their community to paint in this manner. Traditional Shipibo painting known as kené are designs incorporated onto fabrics, ceramics, and on the body. These intricate geometric patterns of great complexity are the heritage of their ancestors. Traditionally Shipibo pattern designs come from the plants’ sacred healing energies and are the codes of the “ikaros,” or songs, that express the powers experienced by the healers who “see the songs” and “hear the designs” in their visions. Inspired by these traditions, Pinedo paints the visions that he has while taking ayahuasca, representing the spirits of the jungle that the plant shows him. Pinedo sustains himself as an artist by traveling back and forth from the jungle to the capital. He also travels internationally having participated in various group and solo exhibitions including “The Green Eye” at Telefónica (Lima, Perú 2000), “Ancestral Vision” at Tremaine Gallery, Hotchkiss School (Connecticut, USA 2004), “El Poder Verde” at Spanish Cultural Center (Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2009), various Rurak Maki exhibitions in Lima, Peru and at the Irish Georgian Society (Dublin, Ireland 2018). Currently he is part of the group exhibition “Amazonias,” Peru en Arco at Matadero (Madrid, Spain).

Miguel Vilca

Miguel Vilca, often referred to as an “Amazonista,” is originally from Arequipa in the Peruvian Andes and has been living in the central Amazonian city of Pucallpa since 1999. Unlike all of the other artists in this group exhibition who are from the Amazonian jungle, Miguel’s Andean Indigeneity sets him apart. His oblique gaze incorporates a reference to Western Christian motifs seldom seen in Amazonian artists’ works yet not absent from the region’s colonialist past. The artist Miguel Vilca revives the testimonies of abandoned and forgotten bodies; feminine bodies exuding myths through the very pores of their existence, “somewhere between redemption and sin, betrayal and love, the fear of punishment and the longing for light,” he claims. Through his exquisitely rendered charcoal drawings, Miguel Vilca evokes the Western classical masters (Caravaggio, Rubens, Zurbarán) avoiding in his words “the false shamans and the elusive icaros.” These female figures alone bear the weight of a story, the same story that broke their spirit. Here they are resurrected within their own Shipibo world hovering between the classic and the exotic. Here, the river and its shadow travel the same path. For Miguel, the river is of course the Amazon and its various tributaries; the shadow his rendition of it.

Lastenia Canayo

Lastenia Canayo was born in 1962 in Roroboya, Bajo Ucayali in the central Peruvian Amazon. She is a respected member of the shipibo-konibo people. Her native name is Pecon Quena, “The one who calls the colours.” Her mother Maetsa Rahua, “The one who sees Sound”, and her grandfather taught her how to work with ceramics. Later she explored painting and embroidery. Her visual repertoire introduces us to the cultural universe of Ybo / Yoshin, teachers, mothers, demons, and other powerful entities that protect Amazonian animals, plants and other beings of nature. Through her animistic conception of nature, Lastenia visualises the various protective beings or owners of plants and animals represented in her painting and embroidery pieces. Early on in her career she participated in an intercultural dialogue with researchers from the Andean Rural History Workshop at the National University of San Marcos (UNMSM), under the direction of the historian Pablo Macera and has since participated in various international exhibitions. In 2014, the Peruvian Ministry of Culture recognised Lastenia with the prestigious title of Meritorious Personality of Culture.

Elena Valera

Jimena Pindeo Valera and Estefany Pinedo Valera Elena Valera was discovered in Lima at the end of the 1990s by the historian and collector of Shipibo art, Pablo Macera. Her art has been taken to several countries in Europe and been exhibited countless times in Lima. Now, she uses the soil in the forest to dye and design her fabrics, and to capture what she has experienced in her community. Jimena Pinedo Valera and Estefany Pinedo Valera are Elena Valera’s children.

Rember Yahuarcani and Santiago Yahuarcani

The work of the artist Rember Yahuarcani takes a visual journey through the myths and stories of the beings that populate the physical and spiritual universe of the Amazon. His learning began with his father Santiago Yahuarcani, while he listened to stories told by his grandmother, Martha López. Exhibiting in galleries since 2003, Yahuarcani seeks to present his works as pieces of contemporary art, certainly rooted in indigenous history and tradition, but with an evolution, style and identity of its own.

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Patsy Craig, Curator 

Patsy Craig has a background in fine art and cultural studies. Her work as a London based curator/producer, author, and artist has spanned a diverse range of interests. For over 15 years, she has been generating projects for international creative development by cultivating cross-cultural collaborations in the fields of art, music, architecture, and urbanism. This output has included publications (books), exhibitions, and events (lectures, concerts, symposiums as well as workshops). 

Three years ago, Craig turned her focus to environmental issues and Indigenous culture in particular. In November 2016, she spent time at Standing Rock, in North Dakota USA to stand in alliance with the water protection movement there. The experience of learning and living amongst Native American peoples in this context inspired her to learn more about Native culture and also galvanised her to contribute towards providing more platforms from which to amplify Indigenous world-views and share Indigenous knowledge. Since then she has engaged in various forms of environmental activism whilst researching Native American and Peruvian Indigenous culture.

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46 Ashfield St,
E1 2AJ

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Other shows from Gallery 46

David James: Storyboard
10/06/2019 to 10/31/2019
The Invisible Forest
05/30/2019 to 06/29/2019


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