Last week I was invited by my friend Cristina Grajales to preview the work of Jorge Lizarazo and his textile company Hechizoo before his second show opened Thursday night. I was very familiar with his work and have been following him for several years since Cristina introduced me to his extraordinary carpets and sculptures intricately woven of metallic fibers. But his new show Voyages/Explorations focuses on his love of nature combined with the most detailed embroidery taking weaving to an entirely new dimension. Also featured is a wall hanging made of horn that gradates from darker to lighter translucent pieces from end to end. As well as ottomans of varying sizes and incredible sculptures using rubber tubing from tires and a canoe floating in the gallery that is completely covered in the tiniest glass beads evoking all of the colors of the sea. I tend to gravitate towards surfaces that have a sheen or reflective quality in my work and Jorge uses copper, aluminum and gold as well as every other color in the rainbow in combination with natural materials from Columbia to create pure magic.
Jorge Lizarazo was born in 1968 and studied architecture at Los Andes University. He then moved to France and worked in the offices of both Santiago Calatrava and Massimiliano Fuksas gaining a masterful knowledge of modern architecture and new technology in construction methods that would have a profound influence on his future work. Being exposed to the uses of technology and materials in both architecture offices combined with his love of nature Lizarazo set out to redefine what could be done with weaving techniques. Part of the appeal of this extraordinary self taught weaver is his ability to use materials that would not typically be perceived as textile-friendly and making them have such a tactile and three dimensional quality. He founded his weaving atelier in 2000 and has achieved incredible success in a short time with his staff of Jorge’s work is already in the permanent collections of the Museum of Art and Design and the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum.
The title of the show Voyages/Expeditions stems from Lizarazo’s interest in the indigenous communities in the south of Columbia, an area known as Putumayo. This region has a great biological diversity and is home to many ancestral cultures and the new work follows his quest to understand forgotten crafts and traditions associated with these territories. On one of his travels to this area, Jorge acquired a canoe which was previously used to transport coca leaves on the Putumayo river. Indians and Campesinos who plant Coca (the sole crop that gets a decent price on those remote and isolated areas) are the weakest link in the drug trade, a booming industry fueled by consumption in First-world countries which has had devastating effects in terms of deforestation of the jungle, violence and the breaking up of whole communities. Jorge worked with the Inga family from this region to completely render the canoe covered in glass beads with an intricate and colorful geometric pattern. Underneath the canoe is a twenty foot by ten foot wide carpet inspired by the Moreira Salles Institute in Rio de Janeiro by architect Olavo Redig and features a large yarumo tree. When this beautiful tree sheds it’s leaves they are silvery gray in color and Jorge captured this with aluminum seen through the architectural window wall of this landmark residence. More than eight master craftsman assembled this enormous embroidered masterpiece with each window alternating natural fibers of woven cumare and fique.
When you enter the gallery there is woven copper drapery panel that extends the width of the space with varying degrees of open and more dense areas hanging from the most beautiful custom copper hardware. Lying beneath is a black copper and copper carpet with birds embroidered in flight and beyond an undulating sculpture inspired by the rubber trees native to Columbia. The sculpture is lit from below capturing the handmade work of this incredible factory and it must be seen in person to experience fully and understand the labor and skill involved in the creation of such masterful hands. Hechizoo Voyages/Explorations is on view at Cristina Grajales Gallery until January 31st, don’t miss this extraordinary show.
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