Olga De Amaral (Colombian b. 1932)
Olga De Amaral (Colombian b. 1932)

Lienzo ceremonial oro

Olga De Amaral (Colombian b. 1932)
Lienzo ceremonial oro
signed, dated and inscribed 'Lienzo ceremonial oro 1996 OLGA DE AMARAL' (on a fabric label sewn on the reverse)
acrylic and gold leaf on linen
91 x 69½ in. (231.1 x 176.5 cm.)
Painted in 1996.
Acquired directly from the artist.
J.C. Moyano Ortiz, R. Pau-Llosa, et al., Olga de Amaral: El manto de la memoria, Bogotá, Zona Ediciones, 2000, p. 134 (illustrated in color).

M. Drutt, E. Lucie-Smith, et al., Olga de Amaral: The Mantle of Memory, Paris, Galerie Agnès Monplaisir and Bogotá, Amaral Editores, S.A.S, 2013, p. 113 (illustrated in color).
Buenos Aires, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Mes de Colombia, 2001, n.n.
Lima, Museo de la Nación, Tiempos y tierra, 2002, n.n.

Lot Essay

We are grateful to Valentina Amaral for her assistance cataloguing this work.
This work is catalogued in the artist's archives under reference number 833D.

In 1970, Olga de Amaral spent an afternoon admiring the ceramics of legendary pottery artist Lucie Rie while visiting her studio in London. Amaral recounts that she was particularly drawn to (and then bought) a vase that had been repaired. Rie explained to Amaral that she had highlighted the mending with gold, a technique she credited to Japanese artisans. Rie went on to share that she considered "fixing" to be an act of love and respect. This restorative use of gold captured Amaral's imagination. Indeed that serendipitous encounter would spark one of the most significant developments in Amaral's artistic practice--beginning from the mid-1970s onwards gold would become one of the artist's most emblematic motifs centered on her search to "[transform] textile into golden surfaces of light."[1]

Moreover the use of gold coincided with the artist's increasing desire to convey a sense of purity and greater simplicity in her woven works. And while the use of gesso enabled Amaral to cover large expanses while creating stiffer, smoother surfaces as well as inscriptions and bas-reliefs patterns, the application of gold onto these textured surfaces generated extraordinary effects of light and depth. Likewise imbuing these works with a formal and spiritual sense of evanescence. The series Lienzos Ceremoniales initiated in 1988 poetically encapsulates this sense of dematerialization. Informed by a painterly aesthetic, in works like the present example from this series, Amaral employs an intense golden hue applied to layers of cascading thread that have been seemingly liberated from the traditional warp/weft relationship associated with traditional weaving. Here all that remains are the layers of loose strands of the warp that form a seductive, yet somewhat dense curtain or shield. The chromatic sensorial effects produced by this work recall those created by the Venezuelan artist Jesus Rafael Soto's groundbreaking Penetrables from the 1960s--architectural volumes of color constructed from malleable materials that may be penetrated or pierced optically and physically by the viewer. And while, Amaral, like Soto, is undoubtedly informed by a painterly sensibility her motives transcend the conceptual problems of painting and in their stead offer a poetic meditation on the transfiguration of material that challenges the boundaries between tapestry, painting, sculpture and installation.

Likewise here as elsewhere gold is intended to summon the ancestral--shared histories that communicate meaning across time and space. Thus much like the mended vase, here too gold serves a healing purpose--metaphorically restoring the symbolic threads that bind humanity across cultures and centuries.

1 O. de Amaral, "The House of My Imagination," Olga de Amaral: The Mantle of Memory (Paris: Galerie Agnès Montplaisir and Bogotá, Amaral Editores, S.A.S., 2013), 208.

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