Kukuli Velarde (Peru)

October 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

I am a Peruvian artist living and working in the United States for more than two decades. My interest has always been to understand our present, that is of Latin America as a whole, and of Peru in particular within the frame of the global contemporary culture – a culture we have often belonged to, more as resources than as creators. My goal is to incorporate our aesthetics of today, which are hybrids of the aesthetics of the colonizer and the aesthetics of the colonized, to the rich history of Western arts, not as isolated elements to be re-plundered but as contributions. We cannot and should not try to revive the past, but as a European or an American artist feels comfortable taking references from Da Vinci to Jasper Jones, I feel comfortable taking references from Paracas or Maya to contemporary Peruvian traditional artists. After all, they are the ones I have always seen first hand, but most importantly, I feel comfortable doing so, keeping in mind what we are in the present so that the work is not a reproduction, but a document of today.

Isichapuitu. Ceramics: 24 in x 51 in x 37 in, 60.96 cm x 129.54 cm x 93.98 cm, 2001.

 AR-L: Are you finding the balance between your artistic career and motherhood?

KV: I totally took care of my Vidita during her first 8 months. I didn’t work much, maybe 45 minutes sometimes to finish up pieces going to a show of mine in Lima, Perú. In those short periods of time her father would take care of her. I nursed her until she was 14 months and in those first months it was intense, I couldn’t and didn’t want to separate myself from her for any longer time. We spent three months in Lima and during our stay my family helped me out so I could do everything was needed for the show, she was bigger and beginning to walk. When I came back to Philly in July I realized that I needed help, otherwise working in my studio was not going to be possible at all. We have now a person who takes care of her 5 days a week, 5 hours every time. I work during that time, the rest of the days is me and my husband Doug. He is a great dad!!

AR-L: How did you come to develop your intermedia style combining painting with ceramics with film, etc.

KV: Oh, I don’t know. I was a painter since a child and used to have shows since I was 10 until the age of 21 of my paintings. Then I left Perú and lived in Mexico, then in the United States where I went to school and that’s where I discovered ceramics. I stopped painting for many years until 2004 when I returned to the medium. I am a firm believer that an artist should do anything necessary for an idea to flourish and if his or her primary medium is not suitable for the idea, he or she should try what ever else is. An artist should always be free.

AR-L: What can you tell us about how your background is reflected in your work?

KV: I am a Peruvian urbanite, lower middle class, daughter of intellectuals who loved their country and its culture dearly, middle age woman. I think you can see all of that in my work. We are the product of our “entorno”, we just have to let it show through

Ar-L: What is your favorite or most preferred medium to work in these days? What medium would you like to try that you have never used before?

KV: Clay and oil painting are my favorites. Clay is immediate, oil makes you think. Clay is forgiving, oil is demanding. I love them for their different characteristics and challenges. I wouldn’t be able to do it without any of them. I would have liked to act, acting is an awesome medium. Haven’t done much in that realm, next life!

Kukuli Velarde is currently represented by Barry Friedman, Ltd. Learn more about her powerful work @ www.kukulivelarde.com


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You are currently reading Kukuli Velarde (Peru) at Diálogo 365: CARPE DIEM @ Art in City Hall.


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