Luminescence: The Silver of Peru @ UTAC

April 10, 2013 § Leave a comment

Olivia Tang

It seems that all that glitters is not gold, but silver at the University of Toronto Art Centre!

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Pomander, silver, Huanuco, XIX Century, Barbosa-Stern Collection, Peru.

Last month, Luminescence: the silver of Peru made its debut here at University of Toronto after its successful run in Vancouver at the University of British Columbia’s Museum of Anthropology. Curated by Dr. Anthony Shelton (Director of the MoA), the exhibit brings together over 140 works that span 2,500 years from the pre-Columbian period all the way to contemporary times in Peru. These works, borrowed from both public and private collections, are considered national treasures and some have never been seen outside of Peru.

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Pre-Columbian Body Ornament, Larco Museum, Peru.

This dazzling exhibit traces the history and significance of silver in Peruvian culture. Jewelry, crowns, masks, paintings, art pieces and various utilitarian objects chronicle the story of a civilization that never lost its identity despite a colonial Catholic takeover by the Spanish in the sixteenth century. Each object displays amazing artistry and craftsmanship with awe-inspiring intricacy that retains the spirit of Peru through the ages!

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Silver Dance Crown, Vivian and Jaime Liébana Collection, Lima, Peru.

Following various exhibits featuring Peruvian gold, Luminescence reinforces the Inca belief that silver is not only just as beautiful and brilliant as gold, but also equal to gold in importance. Both metals were revered for their spiritual significance rather than monetary value, and each represented an important part of a sacred duality (namely that of the Sun and Moon deities and other relative dualities such as male and female).  Precious metals were also used to represent the elite because of their radiant qualities, which associated them with the sacred. The exhibit glows vibrantly and can be seen even before one enters the main gallery of UTAC – making it terribly difficult to deny the magic emitting from the radiant objects! The subtle yet meticulously planned lighting in the gallery beautifully highlights the theme of luminescence and the reflective qualities of silver.

 

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Richard Mamani, Hugo Champi, Madre spondylus, 2002, Patronato Plata del Peru Collection, Peru.

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