Bellas Artes has exhibited the masterful tapestries and fiber sculptures of Columbian artist Olga de Amaral for twenty five years. The Kornsteins first met the artist in Bogota in 1971. When renowned textile designer, curator, and collector Jack Lenor Larson included de Amaral’s work in an exhibition he curated for Bellas Artes in 1986, the gallery began to represent her work.
The artist is known for her architectural and sculptural constructions that “turn textiles into golden surfaces of light.” By using linen and cotton coated with gesso, colored pigments and gold and silver leaf, she weaves and twists fibers, creating an ethereal luminosity that produces imaginary landscapes inspired by Columbian native architecture, pre-Columbian textiles, Indian basketry, gold artifacts, ornamentation of colonial Catholic Churches, and abstract geometries.
For this exhibition, de Amaral will be showing two different bodies of work. VII Pueblos will portray the villages and small towns of Columbia that lie nestled in the mountains. Woven orthogonal grids of gold will suggest the settlements, while the softly glowing curvilinear patterns surrounding them will represent the mountains and the contours of the natural world. These aerial topographies become maps of our imaginations, symbolic of the unique dreams and landscapes that live deep inside us, bringing forth multiple moods and narratives.
Other works on view, VII Policromos, will address how colors also dwell in the imagination and bring forth potent images. For many years the artist primarily applied color to subtly accent the radiance brought forth by her use of the silver and gold leaf. Now color will become the principal focus of the work, creating powerful relationships and choreographies that will paint and illuminate the space of the gallery in new ways. These, like the Pueblos, will evoke emotional landscapes that awaken our cellular memories.
de Amaral’s work is in the collections of museums throughout the world. These include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, and The Museum of Arts and Design in New York, Art Institute of Chicago, de Young Museum in San Francisco, Art Museum of the Americas and National Museum of American Art, Renwick Gallery, in Washington, DC, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Cleveland Museum of Art, The Contemporary Museum in Honolulu, Denver Art Museum. Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Museo de Arte Moderno in Bogota, National Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto, Musée Bellerive in Zurich, and Museo del Instituto de Arte Contemporaneo,Lima.
The artist was selected as the 2005 Artist Visionary! by the Museum of Arts and Design in New York. Notable installations by the artist include three large 10’H x 8’ W tapestries hanging on a marble wall in the atrium of the Four Seasons Hotel in Hong Kong and Field of Stelae acquired by BGC International for the atrium of its London Headquarters. Field of Stelae is composed of 22 suspended sculptures. Reminiscent of ancient standing stones, the abstract vertical shapes illuminate the surroundings with their gold and silver surfaces.
Recently she was the only contemporary artist included in Plus Ultra: Otre Il Barocco Arte Latino-Americano, an exhibition of Spanish colonial paintings from Mexico, Peru, and Columbia, at the Museo di Santa Giulia, Brescia, Italy from December 2009 - June 2010.