From Blake’s Tyger Tyger, burning bright; to the Jungle Book; to Conrad’s disquieting Heart of Darkness, the efforts and its enveloping candies, camouflaging foliage and magnificent creatures have long been a source of inspiration for artists.
Now a new show opens of work by various artists who have made contemporary interpretations of the leafy wilderness in The Invisible Forest, presenting paintings by renowned Native Peruvian-Amazonian artists.
The show has been realised by London-based author and curator Patsy Craig, as part of her Flourishing Diversity Series in collaboration with the Centre for the Anthropology of Sustainability at the University College London and conservation charity Synchronicity Earth. The project aims to develop cultural platforms to help amplify Indigenous world-views and establish improved models of environmental leadership.
“At this point in time when our civilisation is faced with the devastating effects of human caused climate crisis, I believe that the leadership of Indigenous peoples, as stewards, caretakers and protectors of the earth, is crucial to achieving a stable future for all,” says Craig.
“I envision this future built upon solutions that actively affirm, incorporate and uphold the knowledge and rights of Indigenous peoples.”
The majority of the artists featured in the show are from Amazonia, a vast expanse of land that’s both integral to the Earth System’s ecological well-being and rapidly being depleted and exploited through ruthless destruction of its resources.
“The Invisible Forest will provide the Native artists with a platform to make visible their culture’s enlightened world-views,” says the gallery. “In turn, the exhibition will offer London audiences unprecedented access to these invaluable insights”, says the gallery.
The artist in residence for the show is Brus Rubio, a self-taught painter and descendant of the original peoples of Huitoto and Bora, of the Peruvian Amazon. His work is heavily informed by the “fantastic stories from his parents” he heard as a child while at the farm fishing or talking at home in the dark,” according to the gallery. “These stories sustained his sensitivity to nature and fed his imagination about the great mysteries of life.”
Among the other artists exhibiting are Roldan Pinedo, a Shipibo artist from the community of San Francisco, in the district of Yarinacocha of the central Peruvian Amazon. He often incorporates traditional Shipibo painting known as kené in his work, a style in which intricate, complex geometric patterns of people and the jungle’s animals and plants are incorporated onto fabrics, ceramics, and on the body.
“Traditionally Shipibo pattern designs come from the plants’ sacred healing energies and are the codes of the ‘Ikaros’, or songs, that express the powers experienced by the healers who "see the songs" and ‘hear the designs’ in their visions,” says the gallery, and Pinedo works in a very similar way to create his art.
The Invisible Forest takes place at London’s Gallery 46, 46 Ashfield Street, London, E1 2AJ and runs until 29 June 2019.