Carlos Jacanamijoy keeps communication with nature alive through his work
What color does the ocean glisten from the point of view of fish?
Can healing be expressed into colors and shapes?
These are the questions Carlos Jacanamijoy, the renowned Colombian abstract artist, asks in his oil paintings currently on exhibition at the Korea Foundation Gallery in central Seoul through June 1. Reservations are recommended but not required and can be made through the gallery's Facebook account, or through Naver.
“I paint from my memories,” Jacanamijoy said in a virtual press briefing at the gallery last month. “Growing up in a family with 11 other siblings in the Andean region, we didn’t have TV in the house or things to play with. Nature was our playground. That’s when I learned how to communicate with nature and all things living in it. Those memories are the inspirations of my paintings.”
Jacanamijoy was born in 1964 within the Inga indigenous community, which includes descendants from communities that were part of the Inca Empire in Colombia. Many of his paintings carry the spirit of the indigenous people, including “Holes in the Wind,” also the title of his exhibition in Seoul.
“My father was a shaman, and during his encounter with the Dalai Lama, he and fellow shamans performed an act of healing,” Jacanamijoy said. “This healing involves taking deep breaths, and it works by helping a person take the deepest breath possible. It draws energy from mother nature.”
Jacanamijoy’s works have a power that draws in viewers — they are quite large in size, some spanning over 6 feet in width — and time seems to stand still when one is taking in the mix of brush strokes, vivid colors and sense of light that emanates from the canvas.
“I may start with a detail from my memory [...] I believe the universe can be contained within a detail,” he said.
The artist said his eyes may be more sensitive to different colors he sees in nature because he has lost his sense of smell.
“Although I studied the theory of art in school, my selection of colors is not based on theory but on what my eyes are able to take in,” he said.
Jacanamijoy’s works are the result of layers and layers of painting and re-painting, a process he said can take up to eight months. He also works on several pieces at once, instead of focusing on one at a time.
In addition to “Holes in the Wind,” 13 other oil and acrylic paintings are on view at the gallery.
The Colombian artist has not stopped working through the pandemic and some of his latest works on exhibit were inspired by Covid-19, including the “Paths of Light.”
“This work speaks about the love between mankind and nature, something I thought more about since the onset of the pandemic,” he said. “We are increasingly losing touch when it comes to communicating with nature. I fear that it may be lost forever. My works will be an effort to keep that connection open.”
As for how to best enjoy his paintings, Jacanamijoy said, “You should just enjoy them, and I mean not like a curator of a museum or an art expert. Just stand before a painting and if it makes your heart beat faster, that’s all there is to it, and all that there should be.”