Young Chilean exhibits contemporary Mapuche art in downtown Paris

By Belinda Torres-Leclercq
Published On: Wed, Feb 12th, 2014

A family of artists spread across three continents presents art and textile collection inspired by indigenous Mapuche traditions in the French capital this month.

Joy Pentroz in the gallery flanked by two men

Thousands of miles from Southern Chile in a Parisian gallery, a family of artists revisits the rich culture of the land where they once lived taking inspiration from indigenous art for their ongoing mixed materials exhibition.

The name of the exhibition — “Pewen” — refers to a native Patagonian tree in “mapungdungún,” the language spoken by the Mapuche people, Chile’s largest indigenous group.

Now living in Paris, Joy Pentroz, the daughter in the family art collective, oversaw the logistics of gathering the work from her mother and father who live separately on different continents. Born and raised in Chile’s Araucanía Region — the heartland of the Mapuche community — Pentroz grew up around indigenous art and was inspired by traditional textile work produced by her mother and others from a young age.

Shown in Paris’ Maison du Chili, a cultural association that promotes Chilean artists in France, the exhibition’s final day is Thursday, 10 a.m. through 7 p.m.

Two people holding a fabric poster

“After spending seven years outside of Chile I came up with the idea of an exhibition with the goal of promoting Chilean culture and safeguarding Mapuche art,” Joy told The Santiago Times.

She began by gathering the work of her two artist parents which she used as a base for two prize-winning short films — “Salto de la princesa” and “Aliwen.”

Her mother, Luz María Yañez, works with textiles, employing materials borrowed from the Mapuche tradition and uses a color palette of dyes made from fruits, vegetables and other natural pigments.

Rafael Penroz, Joy’s father, contributed 18 paintings that mix Mapuche and contemporary influences. He paints on burlap using black, signifying death and night, red — blood and life — and white for purity and heaven, colors symbolic in several pre-columbian cultures. Joy explains that while her parents have exhibited work across Latin America, they have never shown in Europe so a joint show between the three of them holds special significance.

But it wasn’t easy to get bring it all together. The coordination of a three-continent show necessitated Joy calling in favors from artist friends to get all the paintings and rugs to Paris.

A painting and several rugs on the floor before being exhibited

“I didn’t want to do this classical mapuche art exhibition, instead I wanted to do something original and contemporary,” she said, describing the mix of influences visible in the work.

People talking in the gallery amongst the exhibition

While Joy plans to continue working in France in the near future, she told The Santiago Times her next ambition is to export the same show to her home country.

Source: The Santiago Times

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