SANTA FE, New Mexico — We’ve written about Peruvian artist Kukuli Velarde before on Cfile. One of her exhibition catalogs ended up in our super-exclusive and mega-useful cfile.library. Now, Cfile’s hometown of Santa Fe is hosting Velarde in her show at Peters Projects, Plunder Me Baby: Paintings and Sculpture (Santa Fe, December 16, 2016 – February 11, 2017). From Peters Projects:
Above image: Kukuli Velarde, Pacharaca Pacharaqueandose, Tranquila, tranquila. She may lack respect, but she surely fears you. Ica, Perú, 1000-1476 BC, 2010, terracotta and mixed media, 36 x 21 x 21 inches
Recently awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship last year, Velarde will exhibit an installation of ceramic sculptures from her Plunder Me Baby series and figurative paintings on aluminum from her Cadavers series.
Inspired by pre-Columbian terracotta figures, Velarde’s Plunder Me Baby sculptures reveal folk tradition, evoke histories of ornament and craft, and disrupt aesthetic hierarchies. Removed from their natural environment these figurative characters appear as though awakened for the first time. Each figure exhibits strong reactions to their new surroundings including fear, disdain, and anger. Velarde imbues these “plundered” artifacts with references to the struggles of indigenous populations as a result of European colonization, re-casting these appropriated figures as self-portraits as a means of defiantly reclaiming their ownership while giving them new meaning and context.
Velarde’s Cadavers paintings examine popular culture from the context of a Latin American origin. Taking images from colonial Peruvian painting and contemporary culture, she infuses them with references to gender roles, flaunted sexuality, religious and political colonization, and Latin America’s expectations of women in society. Incorporating self-portraiture as well, the results are intimate and personal. Velarde takes clear cues from art history and the influences of the renowned Cusquenian Baroque School. Parallels can also be drawn to the aesthetics of such culturally aware painters as Diego Velázquez and Frida Khalo. By alluding to indigenous myths through mass media, popular art, and modern religious references, she notes the many guises and archetypes that humans must endure in modern society.
In a 2008 review for Art in America, Senior Editor Janet Koplos describes Kukuli Velarde’s work as “wickedly funny” scoring “feminist and cross-cultural points.” She concludes,” This work should have been in one of the feminist shows. Velarde is a marvel!”
About the Artist
Kukuli Velarde’s work is included in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Racine Art Museum, Wisconsin, and the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, WI. She has received numerous awards, including a PEW Fellowship for the Visual Arts, Evelyn Shapiro Foundation Fellowship, Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant and Sculpture Award, Bronx Council of the Arts Fellowship, and recognition for Freedom of Expression by The Andy Warhol Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, and The Merce Cunningham Foundation.
Kukuli Velarde was born in Cusco, Peru in 1962. She has a Bachelors of Fine Arts from Hunter College and currently lives and works in Philadelphia, PA.
Text (edited) and images courtesy of Peters Projects.
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