Shamanic visions and contemporary Peruvian art at Musée du quai Branly

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Chonon Bensho, b.1992, “Joni”, 2022, colored embroidery, The Shipibo Conibo Center, New York

I wasn’t particularly interested in “Shamanic visions” but I trust Musée du quai Branly for always having original shows. Kehinde Wiley‘s portraits of African rulers is one of the good surprises of the moment (until January 14).  So I went to the opening of this Peruvian exhibition and was happily surprised. Part of it is really a show of contemporary art with traditional roots, all inspired by Ayahuasca, a plant based hallucinogenic beverage used by the Indigenous people of the Amazon. How do the shamanic  “visions” relate to artistic production like William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg‘s who were the first to write about it in 1953 in “The Yage Letters“?  Considered as a purge or a healing medicine,  it has allowed the emergence of a painting movement generated by the encounter of artist Pablo Amaringo (1938-2009) and the Colombian anthropologist Luis Eduardo Luna.

Luz Franco Ahuanari and Nimia Garcia Nunta travelled to Paris from Cantagallo in Peru to paint this fresco in the musem

Curated by Elise Grandgeorge a specialist of psychedelic drugs, and David Dupuis, an anthropologist who does research at Inserm, National Institute for health and medical research, the show includes the shipibo-koniko artists who are muralists outside Lima an flew especially to paint a wall, and the cine artist Jan Kounen who conceived  the virtual reality system on ayahuasca’s visionary effects which visitors are invited to test.

Harry Pinedo Valera/Inin Metsa, “Los Diseños del bosque y del rio”, collection of the artist

Called the “liana of the dead” in Quechua language, this beverage has been used for ceremonial, spiritual ant therapeutic purposes and has become a source of inspiration for Indigenous artists in Peru. The first part of the exhibition is devoted to Kené (drawing), geometrical motifs  usually performed by women. Kené is also used on ceramics, textiles, and embroidered. There is a small part devoted to the tools of shamanic cure, plants, perfumes and music.

Pablo Amazing, Vision of the Snakes, 1987, Private Collection L.E. Luna

Widely developed among Occidental tourists, the use of Ayahuasca has led to a cultural and economic development of these Amazonian territories and the scientific community does research on this substance which apparently appeared in 1500 on the border between Ecuador, Peru and Colombia. Explorers start mentioning it in the 19 th century but it has remained an enigma until today.

Chonon Bensho, Moatian jonibo, 2022, W-Galeria, Buenos Aires

The Exhibition is visually very interesting even if psychotic drugs do not tempt you. Musée du quai Branly until May 26.

On December 13, at White Cube gallery, 10 avenue Matignon, starts an exhibition of Sara Flores (B. 1950), another artist from the Shipibo-Conibo Indigenous group who works with Kené and is present in the Shamanic show. It is organized jointly with the Shipibo-Conibo center in West Harlem, New York.

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