The Light of Spirit

Olga de Amaral at La Patinoire Royale / Valérie Bach Brussels

Olga de Amaral

Although Olga de Amaral is a world-famous artist, she is not yet known to the general public in Europe. Aged 86, this Colombian artist has been making art for more than 60 years. People call her a ‘textile artist‘ or a ‘fiber artist‘ but she’s more than that. She started off by making traditional tapestries.  In the 60’s she gained fame by exposing her fiber pieces in a group show at the MOMA in New York. Before then, the rooms of the MOMA were only intended to show paintings or sculptures. At that time textile art wasn’t appreciated as it is today. De Amaral played an important role in showing people that textiles can be a form of art rather than just a craft.

La Patinoire Royale – Galerie Valérie Bach is currently hosting the first Belgian retrospective of Olga de Amaral, displaying no less than 40 artworks as well as a video called ‘The House of My Imagination’.


Olga de Amaral at La Patinoire Royale / Valérie Bach Brussels

Gold is the main color in de Amaral’s oeuvre. In the gallery we see several large-scaled golden textiles. The artist calls them ‘golden surfaces of light’. Her inspiration comes from Japan where she saw how they used gold leaf in ancient Japanese ceramics. The color gold has several meanings. First, it’s a very luxurious material and it is very attractive to the eye. It refers to the sumptuous temples in ancient cultures. Second, it also refers to the colonisation of Colombia by the Spanish in the 16th century.  At that time a rumour was spread that there was an enormous amount of gold to be found in Colombia, the so called ‘El Dorado‘ myth. De Amaral plays with the contradiction between the luxurious status of gold and the terrible side-effects of the lust for this material: slavery, poverty and the dissapearance of the Precolumbian culture.

Ancient techniques

detail – Olga de Amaral at La Patinoire Royale / Valérie Bach Brussels
detail – Olga de Amaral at La Patinoire Royale / Valérie Bach Brussels

Fiber, Japanese paper, mosaics and gesso are the main materials used by the artist. Practicing ancient techniques, she combines these organic materials into a three-dimensional textile. In some of her works she uses paint on fiber to create a spectacle of light. She wasn’t just inspired by traditional Japanese ceramics but also by other cultures she met around the world, like the Inca’s to name one.

The texture of her artwork and the movement in some of them shows a resemblance to cynetic art.


Olga de Amaral at La Patinoire Royale / Valérie Bach Brussels

For the artist, the creation of a textile is an exploration of her own identity and her cultural background. Driven by emotion, it’s a very intuitive process for her. The creation is as important as the end result. She works toghether with a group of people: every layer is made by someone else, so everyone adds his own touch and toughts to it. Although the creation process is more or less the same, every work of art turns out different. She sees it as a way to get to know herself and to find inner peace.

Some of her artwork shows a resemblance to the colorfield paintings by Rothko. They draw our attention because of their visuel appearance, but we also feel something when standing in front of them. They are not just textiles, there’s something more to it.


La Patinoire Royale / Valérie Bach Brussels

If you want to visit the retrospective you better hurry! The exhibition is closing on 29/07/2018.

The entrance is free.

Patinoire Royale website



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