San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Art from the Andes Weaves Its Way to Barrio Escalante

Judging by the multitude of colors that escape his artwork through three-dimensional mounds of fabric and the complexity of each design, it’s hard to believe that Peruvian Máximo Laura’s creations are woven rather than painted on canvas.

The world-famous textile artist, who said he uses naturally colored cotton, plant fiber, jute and the wool of Andean animals such as llamas as his paintbrush, has set up a breathtaking exhibit at the SpanishCulturalCenter gallery in the eastern San José neighborhood of Barrio Escalante.

On his first visit to Costa Rica, Laura brought a collection of tapestries focusing on the search for balance between humankind and the natural world. The artist explained that his exhibit is divided into four thematic series: rituals and visions; the efforts of the Andean man to keep his culture alive; Andean music expressed through color; and the abundance of nature.

“You approach the ocean, the jungle, and there is absolute abundance. It is deserving of our gratitude,” Laura told The Tico Times.

According to the artist, who said he took up his trade 20 years ago, building a tapestry is a slow and irreversible work of patience and solitude that can take anywhere from four to eight weeks. He said he starts each piece by taking notes and making sketches.

He explained the Andean weaving tradition goes back nearly 5,000 years, and began as a form of artistic expression approximately 3,000 years ago.

Laura, a literature graduate and self-taught artist who learned how to weave from his father, came to Costa Rica as a guest artist for the fourth International Biennial of Textile Art and Design inaugurated Sept. 12 (TT, Sept. 15).

At the event, held at the Costa Rican-North American Cultural Center in Barrio Dent, near Barrio Escalante, the artist exhibited work he created with fellow Peruvian artist Ana Navas, within the framework of the Biennial, which required that artists work in male-female pairs. His art will be on display as part of the biennial exhibit until Oct. 11.

Laura’s work will be exhibited at the SpanishCulturalCenter until Oct. 14. The center is open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.,Monday to Thursday, and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fridays. For information on the exhibit, call 257-2919; for info on Laura or to purchase his art, visit


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