Olga de Amaral
Olga de Amaral is one of the great artistic treasures of Colombia and Latin America. She lives and works in Bogota, but her works are owned by the most important museums in Europe, North and South America. In her work, multiple craft traditions converge with the importance of fine art principles, such as formalism and abstraction, something she has achieved by transforming tapestry weaving into a conceptual practice, comprising strategies found in painting, sculpture and architecture. Her works feel at once primitive and contemporary, as they refer to centuries-old indigenous traditions, but are executed according to the concerns of our own times.
De Amaral employs a variety of materials ranging from gold silver leaf to brightly colored pigments, which refer to the landscape and cultural history of Colombia. Her inclination for gold as a basic material resides in the fact that, in addition to being a symbolically fundamental element in universal culture, it is a metal that contains an indisputable plastic richness and aesthetic value. Likewise, for the artist, color is a common language in humanity; "I prefer the colors used in ancient arts and crafts that are based on transforming alchemical processes"*, she assures. This mix of elements allowed her to create a richer sense of layering, allowing gold, color and texture to shine together and project an impression that is both intimate and monumental, phenomena that are not necessarily a function of their large scale.
In a reckless manner, Olga de Amaral breaks conventional structures and gives the fabric sculptural and conceptual values that do not go unnoticed. Her constructions have the ingredients of the avant-garde but maintain the necessary sobriety to avoid falling into the danger of visual rhetoric. The finishes of her works are impeccable and the textures and designs vary or are inverted and provide another range of associations or meanings. De Amaral has not remained in schemes, nor has she turned his procedures into a formula. She has developed themes, series, inquiries and stages in which the concerns have fallen on certain particular aspects of the fabric.
"I would like to mention that many of my first large-scale weavings had an architectural and sculptural intention. These were massive constructions woven with heavy fibers, such as horsehair and virgin wool. They were freestanding, three-dimensional volumes or structures that physically define spaces."
*Olga de Amaral, “La Casa de mi imaginación”, Conferencia en el Metropolitan Museum of Art (MoMA), NY, 2003.