Always wanted to climb Machu Pichu? Well you can do the next best thing at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts: You can take in over 350 Peruvian works of art, artifacts and treasures in their latest show, Peru: Kingdoms of the Sun and Moon…
This world premiere opening on February 2, fully organized, mounted and toured by the MMFA, is loftier than any anthropological-style expo you might imagine because it covers thousands of years of history, including Peruvian art produced in modern times. In addition to displaying an extensive collection of pre-Columbian treasures and masterpieces from the colonial era to Indigenism, including over 100 pieces that have never before been seen outside of Peru, you will be able to bask in modern Peruvian creativity.
As curator Victor Pimentel says, “Through the representation and reinterpretation of myths, rituals and other primordial symbols of identity captured by different artistic traditions, the exhibition will illustrate how the evocative power of images have influenced the history of pre-Hispanic, colonial and modern Peru.” Here are three treasures you simply can’t miss seeing.
1) A photograph by the wonderful Amerindian artist Martín Chambi, titled Tristeza andina, La Raya, from 1933. At the beginning of the 20th century, Indigenism flourished as an artistic and intellectual movement in Peru based on revalorizing and reaffirming the country’s indigenous heritage. Works depicting scenes of Native life and the idyllic landscapes of the Peruvian countryside and highlands such as this one were to transform the visual culture of Peru in the modern era.
2) The figurehead work of the exhibition, featured on its posters and promotional material: A Mochica frontal ornament in the shape of a half-feline, half-octopus dating from 100-800 A.D. and recently repatriated and exhibited for the first time outside of Peru. Made of pure gold and intricately carved, it symbolizes the constant dialogue between the world of the living and the world of the dead that was an essential component of Andean spirituality.
3) A beautiful anonymous 18th century painting titled Young Virgin Spinning, from the era after the Spanish conquest of Peru in the 16th century that led to the hybridization of the Peruvian culture. Paintings like this one, from the School of Cuzco – established by the Spanish as a means of converting the Incas to Catholicism – testify to the powerful role played by images in the campaign to evangelize the Native peoples of the Andes.
Peru: Kingdoms of the Sun and Moon, February 2 to June 16, 2013
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 1380 Sherbrooke West, (514) 285-2000