Artist: Jorge Eielson

Wright proudly celebrates the work of Jorge Eielson, a distinguished Peruvian poet, sculptor, painter and conceptual artist. Eielson's most famous series of works, Quipus, typifies his enduring fascination and rigorous exploration of the symbolic and narrative power of language and form. 

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Quipuis: Beyond Language

Eeilson is a distinct artist of the 20th century — his work is inextricably tied to his Peruvian heritage and a set of formal investigations singular to his vision of bridging the past and the present, and the relationship between language and meaning. His most well known work are his Quipu paintings, which he began creating in 1963. These works are conceptual reinterpretations of ancient quipus — "talking knots" — a system of record keeping devised by the Incas that does not rely on a written language or numeric structure to create meaning. 

To write poetry, one must forget words.

Jorge Eielson

Hay una estatua en Florencia

Hay una estatua en Florencia
Que nadie conoce
Pero que me ofrece
Todo el mármol de su cuerpo
Y su sonrisa cansada
Yo la abrazo con ternura
Y ella me dice al oído
Que yo también soy la estatua
De un artista desconocido
Y además respiro

There is a statue in Florence
That no one knows
And yet it offers me
All the marble of its body
And its worn out smile
I embrace it tenderly
And it whispers in my ear
That I too am the statue
Of an unknown artist
And moreover I breathe

— Jorge Eielson

Auction Results Jorge Eielson

Jorge Eielson 1924–2006

Jorge Eielson often described himself as belonging to four cultures: Spanish, Italian, Swedish and Nazca. Born in Lima to a Peruvian mother and Scandinavian father, Eielson exhibited multidisciplinary artistic tendencies early on; he played the piano, wrote poetry and drew feverishly. At the end of his secondary school studies, Eielson met anthropologist and writer, José María Arguedas. Recognizing his young student’s talent, Arguedas introduced him to the artistic and literary circles in Peru and exposed him to ancient Peruvian history, a subject that was largely unknown to Eielson as a result of his colonial education.

In 1941, Eielson began studying at the National University of San Marcos, winning awards for poetry and drama in 1945 and 1946. During these years, he conceived his first canvases and exhibited at the Lima Gallery in 1948. In the early 1950s, Eielson traveled to Europe for the first time, stopping in Paris and Switzerland before landing in Italy. In Milan, Eielson found his elected homeland and settled there permanently. In the late 1950s, he began to reexamine his artistic work and stared incorporating natural materials like earth, clay, crushed marble and cement to his canvas to create somber, multidimensional landscapes. He added figures to his landscapes, and with them, various garments and items of clothing. These early works mark Eielson’s interest in textiles, which eventually lead to the artist tearing, twisting and knotting swaths of colored fabric into works of art.

In 1963, Eielson began his first Quipus series. Inspired by the quipu, a method of record keeping used by ancient Andean cultures, these works would become a hallmark of Eielson’s artistic career. In 1964, he exhibited the series at the Venice Biennale to wide acclaim and gained international recognition. Eielson traveled back to Peru to further his studies of pre-Columbian art, and received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1978. During his lifetime, his work was exhibited in numerous major exhibitions; including various shows at the Museum of Modern art in New York, the Museo de Bellas Artes in Caracas, the Centro Cultural de la Municipalidad de Miraflores in Lima and Kustalle Gallery in Bern. Since his death in 2006, Eielson’s remains one of the most well-known Spanish language poets and his artwork is included in major collections around the world.