Interview with Maximo Laura

“Warrior Look”, 240 cm x 120, copyright Maximo Laura

Italiano (Italian)

Maximo Laura fotografo: Prin Rodriguez & Monarca Criollo/ Pariacaca

“Love Ritual”, 260 cm x 180 cm, copyrightMaximo Laura

Maximo Laura is an award-winning weaver among the best known and most respected in South America. His tapestries are part of the most important public and private collections in the world and include the World Bank in Washington D.C., the Unesco Headquarters in Paris, the Smithsonian´s National Museum, the Iberian American Museum in Spain and the National Museum of Peruvian Culture in Lima.

His tapestries are still woven by hand on large wooden looms and are the expression of a style strongly connected to the iconography of Peruvian culture of the pre-Columbian era, but they are the culmination of a creative process that, becoming independent from the centuries-old tradition that inspires it, is the expression of a new, personal and modern aesthetic.

Below is the link to the artist’s website:

https://maximolaura.com/

Photo of Gallery
(Click on photo to enlarge)

Photo 1 “Festival of the Water Goddess-detail”, copyright Maximo Laura

Photo 1“Festival Of The Water Goddess-detail”, copyright Maximo Laura

Photo 3 “Festival Of The Water Goddess-detail”, copyright Maximo Laura

Photo 4 “Conciliation”, 120 cm x 100 cm, copyrightMaximo Laura

Photo 5 “Conciliation – detail”, 120 cm x 100 cm, copyrightMaximo Laura

Photo 6 Conciliation – detail”, 120 cm x 100 cm, copyrightMaximo Laura

Photo 7 “Conciliation – detail”, 120 cm x 100 cm, copyright Maximo Laura

Photo 8 “Offering to the Sun God”, 120 cm x 80 cm, copyright Maximo Laura

Photo 9 “Offering to the Sun God”, 120 cm x 80 cm, copyright Maximo Laura

Photo 10 “Praise to Fertility”, 100 cm x 150, copyright Maximo Laura

Photo 11  “Praise to Fertility”, 100 cm x 150, copyright Maximo Laura

Photo 12 “Praise to Fertility”, 100 cm x 150, copyright Maximo Laura

Maximo, you have been part of a family of weavers for many generations. What do yourtapestries have in common and what do they differ from the tapestry tradition of your family?

The previous generations, from whom I’ve learn to weave through family traditions, were weavers of decorative fabrics and blankets for local consumption in markets and streets. The colors, designs and products were repeated through patterns. Through my childhood I was happy to see that some weavers broke this repetition and innovated to give freshness to the art, and from there, my interest in innovation and pushing the boundaries began, developing works with different combinations of colors and techniques throughout my teenage years. In the 1980s I immigrated to Lima from my town (Ayacucho) and during that period, I intentionally begin exploring a personal language, looking to develop a more complex textile language in color, design, texture and structure. From that period onward, my works started to differ greatly from those in my family tradition.

“Cantata al Jaguar ”, 120 cm x 250 cm, copyrightMaximo Laura

“Cantata al Jaguar – detail”, 120 cm x 250 cm, copyrightMaximo Laura

“Cantata al Jaguar – detail”, 120 cm x 250 cm, copyrightMaximo Laura

Your tapestries are connected to the symbology and iconography of Peruvian culture. Howdo you translate this ancient cultural heritage into the modern world? How does your artallow us to get in touch with Peruvian culture?

In the 1980s I researched the Peruvian ancestral iconography very deeply, and I was fascinated. This research gave me the structure for the formation of design and composition that helped me to recreate it, first, and then to develop my own work, my own language. Over the years I found much more inspiration, with a permanent return; The symbology, style, abstraction and minimalism of ancestral cultures is very powerful, so for me there is a commitment to the continuity of the millennial tradition of my homeland without leaving my passion for innovation and art in general.

I firmly believe that research and encounters with contemporary visual arts have enriched and made possible a new expression in the development of my work; helped by the ambition to investigate and experience weaving in its intricate and increasingly new structures that break the orthodox fabric. The technical research and experimentation I have done, along with having a powerful symbolic tradition allows me to create messages and an aesthetic of my own.

“Coca Kintu”, 140 cm x120 cm, copyright Maximo Laura

On the contrary, are there, in your artworks, elements (for example, techniques) that move them away from the Peruvian tradition and that embrace other cultural traditions or artistic currents?

The technical and aesthetic repertoire of the Peruvian tradition is very rich, varied and differentiable from other cultures, and they are manifested in regional expressions and temporal styles, which I use as a base. Thanks to the influence of these traditions I have been able to create a multitextured tapestry, use of colors and simultaneous use of different techniques in the same piece. My work is also enriched greatly through my exploration of techniques from other cultures, international contemporary artistic expressions and the desire to search for a language of my own.

“Love Ritual – detail”, 260 cm x 180 cm, copyright Maximo Laura

“Love Ritual – detail”, 260 cm x 180 cm, copyright Maximo Laura

Are there common characteristics between the tradition of European tapestry art (e.g.Aubusson) and your artistic style?

When researching and experimenting within tapestry weaving traditions, I’ve found that the results can be very similar in different places, although it has certain differences in the process; hence, I’ve found that different cultures achieve the similar technical and aesthetic effects through the use of certain symbols that are of universal significance. When I was experimenting and researching the base of tapestry weaving, I thought that I had found many innovations, but that after careful research, had in fact been done in a similar way in a number of cultures, although each with its peculiarity. In the 1990’s I made intensive use of the Aubusson technique, during that stage my work was very pictorial. There are also other techniques from European traditions that I have used, and that I’m still in incorporating into my work.

In what way are your tapestries traditional and what makes them contemporary? What isthe relationship between tradition and innovation in your work?

My work is born from the textile tradition of my country which has a recognizable regional style, but which has, over time, been modified and adapted to the needs of the contemporary world, from the way that a workshop is organized, to the use of new techniques and technologies. I consider that I keep the spirit of my tradition and homeland, my culture, customs, festivals and worldview, but experimenting at the same time with innovation; fundamentally, trying to express a voice of my time. I believe that innovation must not only be limited to the technical side of the creation process, it should also be an instrument to express the sensitivity of the present, the contemporary world and experience.

Eternal Ritual of Wiracocha in the Andes II”, 120 cm x 120 cm
copyright Maximo Laura

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Can you tell us about the role of color in your artworks?

One of the most important challenges when developing my work is to explore how to use color in a way that has a high sensitivity, symbolic and harmonic charge. Color in my work serves as one of the main ways transmit a message, an intimate contact with oneself and with the spectator. Color is a powerful wave of energy, light and depth in every section of my work. I love exploring all the ranges, moving from light to the dark and playing with its intensity to highlight areas of my interest.

What kind of yarns do you prefer? Do you prefer the exclusive use of traditional materialsor do you dedicate part of your work to experimenting with unusual materials?

For my work I prefer the use a mixture of fibers. I give priority to the use of natural fibers from alpaca, llama and sheep, but now none of my skeins (the mixture of yarn that is used when weaving) are purely made of these natural fibers, these are now mixed with synthetic fibers and the percentage is varied depending on the color of the thread, some colors require more synthetic fibers than others. These synthetic fibers are not traditional but this mixture between the natural and the synthetic has helped me find interesting textures for my tapestries and a great variety of colors. Personally I love using a variety of threads and materials and I have no prejudice in using and experimenting with strange and unorthodox materials.

How has your work evolved over the years? Are there important stylistic, aesthetic orconceptual differences between your first tapestries and the most recent ones?

It has indeed evolved. It has almost been 40 years of intense, permanent and sustained activity; Every day there is development of techniques and design. I’m currently experimented with numerous techniques that, for the most part, have not been included in my tapestries yet. This happens with my designs too, there are more than 3000 and a large part hopes to be a tapestry one day. I have identified 5 major themes in my work, broken down into 15 collections, each collection with hundreds of designs. There are works that go from miniature size to murals of great dimension. Definitely you can see stylistic, aesthetic and conceptual differences in each stage, each collection, in each case the following includes the previous one, but developed through a different message, a different use of color and composition.

“Greater Feast OfThe Wind”, copyright Maximo Laura

“Greater Feast OfThe Wind-detail”, copyright Maximo Laura

Maximo, what do you think is the most important difference between a craftsman whoworks with threads and fabrics and a textile artist? When does a fiber work become art?

I think there is a very substantial difference between a master craftsman weaver and a textile artist; this is that the master craftsman is an expert, virtuoso and specialist weaver; basically a technician, although he has a very personal style, a supreme expression in his work; It can be identified as part of a region or geography, part and all of a tradition. While the textile artist may be equal or less virtuous than the master craftsman, however, he is in a position to be a co-creator or creator of a work in which his creativity is fundamentally the most important part of the work. In both, the technique will be a means of expression; likewise, it is not necessarily linked to an identifiable geographical expression, less a part of a tradition, even if it contains it.

“Solstice”, 196cm x 122, copyright Maximo Laura

“Solstice – detail”, 196cm x 122, copyrightMaximo Laura

“Solstice – detail”, 196cm x 122, copyrightMaximo Laura

Photo of Gallery
(Click on photo to enlarge)

Photo 1“Warrior Look”, 240 cm x 120 cm, copyright Maximo Laura

Photo 2“Warrior Look – detail”, 240 cm x 120 cm, copyright Maximo Laura

Photo 3“Warrior Look – detail”, 240 cm x 120 cm, copyright Maximo Laura

Photo 4 “Warrior Look – detail”, 240 cm x 120 cm, copyright Maximo Laura

Photo 5 “Birds on a Festive Afternoon”, 120 cm x 180 cm, copyright Maximo Laura

Photo 6 “Birds on a Festive Afternoon – detail”, 120 cm x 180 cm, copyright Maximo Laura

Photo 7 “Birds on a Festive Afternoon – detail”, 120 cm x 180 cm, copyright Maximo Laura

Photo 8 “Song of the Heart”, 198 cm x 83, copyright Maximo Laura

Photo 9 Ternura a la Ausencia – detail”, 200 cm x 80 cm, copyright Maximo Laura

Photo 10 “Ternura a la Ausencia – detail”, 200 cm x 80 cm, copyright Maximo Laura

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