In Vibrant Paintings and Sculptures, Fernándo de Szyszlo Captures the Mysticism of the Incas

Michael Valinsky
Mar 5, 2015 2:39PM

Miami gallery Durban Segnini has opened its doors to a moving portrait of mystical and abstract landscapes by Peruvian artist Fernándo de Szyszlo in a solo show entitled “El Elogio de la Sombra” (“Elegy of the Shadow”).

Born in the Andean region of Lima, Peru and now based there, De Szyszlo has created a new series of paintings and sculptures based on cultural elements of the Incan Empire that focused on the worship of the gods and communion with nature. A series of practices developed to support these values, such as pilgrimages and ceremonies to honor certain serpents, birds, and felines. The Inca people created lavish golden temples and lived in the Andean environment that offered magnificent views of the coast and the monumental mountain range. It is interesting to consider these communities in the historical timeline of religious tradition. While mores changed over time, the zeitgeist of mysticism left behind is what de Szyszlo investigates in his show.


De Szyszlo’s sculptures and paintings are inspired by and borrow from traditional Incan imagery, and the Andean cultures that came before. Depicting scenes at times both ominous and lively, these paintings offer explosions of color, always with a totemic block of imagery at the forefront—these forms are reflected in his sculptures. The recurring shapes and motifs that repeat in each painting allow the colors in the background to feed off of their cultural capital. Representing symbols of worship, the works takes on meaning that spans the psychical and mystical beliefs of various communities over time. The colors read like moods, spreading out into different planes of consciousness. The emotional vitality of the paintings beckon the viewer for input. In doing so, the history that the artist represents becomes all the richer, containing within itself the totality of time. De Szyszlo succeeds in mapping out a past and perhaps also a future.

Michael Valinsky

El Elogio de la Sombra” is on view at Durban Segnini Gallery, Miami, Feb. 20-Apr. 3, 2015.

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