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Jorge Eielson: The Infinite Landscape

Jorge Eielson: The Infinite Landscape


2831 October 2020


Jorge Eielson

Spanning the years 1966-1974, Timothy Taylor’s Art Basel OVR: 20c presentation is composed of works from Peruvian artist Jorge Eielson’s Quipus series: knotted, twisted, and stretched canvases that extend into three dimensions.

Eielson is best known for his Quipus series, an exploration of material, form and communication which he began in 1963 and continued for four decades. Using shape and colour to convey meaning, the works are reinterpretations of the ancient quipu, a record-keeping system devised by the pre-Columbian Incas of Peru, translated as ‘talking knots.’ Eielson reinterpreted the ancient device in raw canvas that he stretched, twisted, knotted, and then painted in monochrome or polychrome bands, with each hue, knot, and intersection representing a symbol or word.

Eielson’s canvas-based works see tensed knots of fabric break out of the two-dimensional boundaries of the flat surface, challenging the strictures of painting and sculpture. Merging modernist abstraction with radical conceptualism, Eielson’s work on the spatial possibilities of painting parallels the Concetti Spaziali of Lucio Fontana, the Italian artist whose slashed canvases would transform the future of painting.


Eielson presented his first quipus at the 1964 Venice Biennale, one of four Biennales that he would participate in in his lifetime. Works from the series were later purchased by J. Alfred Barr, Nelson Rockefeller and Aldrich Rockefeller; today these works reside in both the Museum of Modern Art and the Rockefeller collections.

Although Eielson has long been renowned in Latin America, in the last few years his legacy has been re-examined internationally, celebrating his remarkable practice as a bridge between the legacy of the modernist avant-gardes and contemporary conceptualism. In 2017 the artist was the subject of a major retrospective at the Museo de Arte de Lima, Peru. A Quipu by Eielson is currently featured in the exhibition Artist’s Choice: The Shape of Shape, curated by artist Amy Sillman at the newly reopened Museum of Modern Art, New York.

The Body of Giulia-no 1972 

Jorge Eielson: The Infinite Landscape – Timothy Taylor