“The way the world is evolving,
with such greed and corruption,
sometimes I feel that art is a form of salvation;
the only place a human being can find solace”
THE EYE IS CAUGHT BY COLOUR. Pattern engages the mind. Ambiguity fuels the imagination. This is no mere accident; these traits have evolved as essential to long-term survival. Colour changes with ripeness, with hotness, with disease; it calls to us, warns us, hides from us. It is by recognising and understanding patterns that we can order the world around us, describe and anticipate its ever-unfolding narratives and in turn represent this knowledge in symbolic configurations of our own devising. But it is ambiguity that engages us most strongly. The uncertain must be investigated, analysed, assayed against memory and made prescient in the mind’s eye. While the play of young animals and children prefigures the dealings of adult life (conflict, cooperation, danger, love …), the skills we now associate with story-telling and the arts invert the process, repurposing the traits of survival to a kind of play. It is a reflexive ludic form that seeks not just to understand the exterior world, but ourselves. For it is through that understanding of self that we can nurture the empathy necessary to conceive the interior life of others.
THE ‘LANDSCAPES’ of the Peruvian artist Cecilia Paredes draw on and articulate this interior experience. Her body lies camouflaged amid the ornate designs of chintz and wallpaper like a fugitive being in a prehistoric jungle. Is this the lair of the predator or the hiding place of the prey? Perhaps neither, for Cecilia Paredes it is the marginal beings – skunks, armadillos, snakes – that she loves most. Animals that are often misunderstood. Loners.
This series began when she moved from Peru to the USA. The lot of the migrant is to become subsumed into the patterns of another culture, another way of life. To survive one must blend in, but are we lost to ourselves as we dissolve into the alien landscapes of the new? These are questions raised by her images, not answers given. The disappearing act is in the eye of the beholder. The woman remains whole and uncorrupted, we just have to work harder to perceive how she harmonises with, while remaining distinct from, the florid excess of faux foliage that surrounds her. Form holds the truth; pattern the context. It is in our evolved sense of self-preservation, repurposed to consider the internal life of others, that we have the possibility of true insight.
Born in Lima, Peru, Cecilia Paredes currently lives and works between Philadelphia and Lima.
© Cecilia Paredes ‘Blue Landscape’ 2007