One prominent characteristics of Carlos Jacanamijoy’s paintings is a multitude of colours. However, in these paintings shown at Havremagasinet, the artist wanted to delimit the palette to grey, yellow, blue and some pink shade. The Auca paintings depict a subjective forest populated by numenes (deities or spirits) that manifest in nature, but are not normally registered by the naked eye. According to Jacanamijoy, they are nonetheless always present, and it is through ancient practices and rituals, like yagé, that we can access them. His paintings, although they at first seem abstract, are filled with discreet figurative elements, in fact symbols that the attentive viewer can read with the help of a table explaining their meaning.
The Ingas believe that those who are not baptized are Aucas. According to an Inga legend, the Auca is a naked boy that lives freely in the forest but, when spotted by humans, disguises himself by camouflaging in the foliage of the plants, or by transforming into an animal of the air, of the ground, or of the water. It can be said that Auca is the spirit of the jungle. Jacanamijoy claims that the missionaries in their evangelization processes referred to the non-baptized as Aucas, in other words, the savages, the wild ones. ForJacanamijoy, the closest he has been to liberty, was what he experienced as a boy in the jungle.
The work of Carlos Jacanamijoy is distinct from modernist principles of a mainly self-referential abstract art. Although his paintings are made with the western tradition of oil on canvas, his thematics have always explored the ways of seeing and perceiving of the Ingas and other indigenous cultures. Jacanamijoy has also used painting as a way to resist the presumption that people of indigenous descent must only produce objects of folkloric and artisanal value. With his work, he seeks to give visibility to these cultures, restoring their sense of belonging. For Jacanamijoy, it is important to do this from another point of view, or rather, from the point of view of the Other; seeking a recognition that opens a dialogue among cultures. His paintings can be seen as a ritual that implies a doubling, dividing and interchanging of the self that, by means of appropriation, performs an act of cultural translation. This is what allows us, as viewers — regardless of where we stand — to read what is foreign through what seems familiar.
About the artist
Carlos Jacanamijoy studied fine arts at Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Bogota. His work has been exhibited widely in Colombia and abroad. Has had mayor solo exhibitions at the Smithsonian Museum in New York and Washington, at The House of the Americas in Madrid, at the Workers Palace in China, at Museo la Tertulia in Cali, at the Art Museum of Universidad Nacional and at León Tovar Gallery in New York, among many others. In 2013, the Museum of Modern Art in Bogotá organized a large retrospective of his work.
There are many books published about his work, and his paintings are in various public and private collections in Colombia, France, Germany, England, Venezuela, Mexico and The United States.