Brut & Cute: Painted Textiles of the Andes Circa. 800 - 1200 AD

3 August - 29 September 2024

Circa 800-1400 AD


This exceptional grouping of painted textiles from the Pre-Columbian Andes most likely served as votive tools for shamanistic rites and as clothing designated for ceremonial use. The seemingly whimsical and spontaneous manner in which these works are executed may strike us as marvelously exuberant from our 21st-century perspective. In every painting, they set out to create a purely visual space where the imagination can thrive, and viewers can lose themselves in aesthetic wonderings.


There are few 20th-century Western artists who have transcended both traditional stylistic parameters and critical close-mindedness to achieve world recognition and inspire a movement that shares such aesthetic intimacy with these painted textiles. We could add Paul Klee with his Neo-primitivist style, Jean Dubuffet with his Art Brut style, and Jean-Michel Basquiat with his Neo-expressionist style. All of them recognized an aesthetic kinship with artists from remote cultures of antiquity. It is in the works of Basquiat that we find the strongest affinity to these painted textiles. His earliest figures are frontal, flat, and display a stick-figure simplicity that is very characteristic of Pre-Columbian Andean paintings and sculpture in their raw energy, directness, and playful spontaneity.

With their profusion of wide eyes, humanoid forms, beasts, and birds, these paintings are suggestive of the real world, but they also lean on abstraction, in which noughts, crosses, and other symbols flirt across a work’s surface with pride in pure, joyous painterly gestures. In these museum-quality examples, we are witnessing an artistic genre that is completely free, based solely on the artists' own individual impulses. This is art in which the sole function of invention is manifested, unlike the art mostly seen in our Western "cultured art."
The Old Chapel
Church Street
Maiden Bradley
BA12 7HW