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Inner Cosmos, 122 x 217 cm, Alpaca wool, cotton, mixed fibers. Hand-woven Tapestry


Solstice, 35 x 21 cm, Alpaca wool, cotton, mixed fibers. Hand-woven Tapestry.




Artist: Maximo Laura, of Lima, Peru

Interview 83: Maximo exhibited in the 2012 Festival exhibition Myth Making at The Display Area at Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural Centre in Oakville, Ontario.

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Interviews published by Gareth Bate & Dawne Rudman.



Maximo Laura, born in Peru in 1959, is an internationally recognized tapestry weaver and one of South America’s pre-eminent textile artists, consultant, designer and lecturer. His work is in private and corporate collections worldwide and has been exhibited in museums, art centers and galleries, in 79 solo and numerous group shows. Maximo Laura has won awards in both national and international competitions including a UNESCO Prize for Latin America and the Caribbean, Spain, 1992; Best in Show Award Latin American Art VIII, USA, 2005; Award Global Intrigue 3rd European Textile and Fiber Art Triennial, Latvia, 2007; Peoples Choice Award Land the tapestry foundation of Victoria, Australia, 2008; Awards From Lausanne to Beijing 5th International Fiber art Biennale, China, 2008 and 2010; HGA Award, USA, 2009; Award at the 13th International Tapestry Triennial of Lodz, Poland, 2010; Award at the VI International Biennial of Textile Art – WTA, Mexico, 2011, among others. Maximo Laura is a co-founder of Iberoamerican Textile Network and the Peruvian Center of Textile Art. He is a member of the American Tapestry Alliance, the European Tapestry Network and the British Tapestry Group. Maximo Laura has his studio in Lima, Peru. He also teaches national and international workshops.

Máximo Laura was nominated a “National Living Human Treasure” in his native Peru in 2010. Maximo's website.


Artist: Maximo Laura


Tell us about your work?

Tapestry-making requires a progressive, slow and irreversible system of work that allows for the miniscule, patient and intimate meeting of technical and visual solutions, leading to the opening of an infinite repertoire of possibility, subjected to the communicative intentionality of the work. In my case, I look for a language that emanates spirituality, aesthetic beauty and lyricism. I try to submit myself to the limitations of the materials and to the requirements of the act of creation, under the light of an obsessive taste that will, in the end, reflect a cultural and textile connotation that is typically Peruvian.


Cosmic Harmony II, 35 x 20 cm, Alpaca wool, cotton, mixed fibers. Hand-woven Tapestry

Detail, Cosmic Harmony I, 20 x 20 cm, Hand-woven tapestry


From where do you get your inspiration?

The images are born in my long walks and travels, in exhibits, museums, galleries, books and multimedia information. These sources help to stimulate my creative spirit, leading me to encounters with vibrant and intense colour, with elaborate and symbolic form, as well as with the refined technique of my tool: the loom. Then follows the search of a lyrical, spiritual, poetic language, culminating in a product of this part of the continent and of this time.



Looking balance of the life, 176 x 320 cm, Alpaca wool, cotton, mixed fibers. Hand-woven Tapestry


Why did you choose to go into fibre art?

It is an activity I encountered in my childhood and I remember it fondly because I received a gift from my father after having completed my first woven piece. These experiences with my father motivated me to continue, improve, explore, research and discover new paths. My inventive imagination coupled with skills in drawing and painting gave me an avenue towards the personal realization of weaving and this inspired within me, a passion for fibre art.


Lover Seasons, 175 x 473 cm, Alpaca wool, cotton, mixed fibers. Hand-woven Tapestry

What other mediums do you work in, and how does this inform your fibre work?

My artwork contains completely defined forms, whose personalities, iconographies and symbols take shape from magical realism. These forms are each coloured with a symbolic evaluation. Taking these aspects of the creation of a tapestry into consideration, it requires that I design the cartoon. That is to say that the process requires me to be a proficient drawer, designer and colourist, as well as a painter.


Mayor Spirit, 176 x 120 cm , Alpaca wool, cotton, mixed fibers. Hand-woven Tapestry

Detail, Mayor Spirit, 176 x 120 cm , Hand-woven Tapestry


What bridges the works that you have created in differing media?

I find in many aspects of life, the history, nature, thought and cultures of man of this time, to be elements of sensibility. That sensibility is what moves me with visual arts and the formation of art. Particularly art that works with the abstract and spiritual, art that is vibrant and explosive and art that covers a harmonic range of colour.


Which is your favourite fibre medium?

My favourite medium would be the fibre of alpaca and cotton. I enjoy any fibre that feels smooth and that has resistance to tension.


Ofrenda a la Mamapacha, 21 x 29 cm, Alpaca wool, cotton, mixed fibers. Hand-woven Tapestry


What specific historic artists have influenced your work?

The thousand-year old Peruvian textile is an inexhaustible source and has deep connotation. Its symbolism, abstraction, and stylization are moving and have contemporary relevance and I find it to be both fantastic and inspiring. Those anonymous artists are known as part of the culture. There are those that I prefer, for example artists from the Paracas culture, due to the fascinating range of colour and the powerful and complex mythical characters. Another is Chavín culture for its stylizations and fantastic mythological naturalism and Huarí culture for its abstraction, composition and audacious colour. I also like Chancay culture for its lines and restrained contemporary colours.



Presencia de los Apus en la Jungla, 180 x 278 cm, Hand-woven Tapestry


What specific contemporary artists have influenced your work?

I find many contemporary visual artists to be interesting, as well as the great work that the Aubusson workshop realizes. Principal artists are:

Jean Lurçat (France, 1892-1966) is a painter and advisor to a team of weavers in the Aubusson Workshops, Creuse. His work is a legacy of extraordinary art and a base for the acceptance of weaving as a visual art. Many of his works are impressive and a source of inspiration to me.

Olga de Amaral (Colombia, 1932) is a textile artist who is very important in the field of textile art. Beginning with the use of traditional Colombian textile in two-dimensional form to three-dimensional form of abstract art, her art is impressive and mysterious.

Sheila Hicks (USA – France) is a textile artist and a promoter of fibre art. Her works, especially those in big format, are valued greatly and invite me to dream as an artist of the infinite possibilities within textile art.

Fernando de Szyszlo (Peru, 1925) is an abstract painter who takes the essence of pre-Hispanic Peruvian artists and uses that essence to create contemporary art that combines his personal language with vitality. I am amazed by his extraordinary use of colours. This artist is mysterious, elegant, expressive and innovative: completely inspiring.



Sacred meeting in the jungle, 176 x 402 cm, Alpaca wool, cotton, mixed fibers. Hand-woven Tapestry


What other fibre artists are you interested in?

In reality, there are important artists worldwide. I am interested in the work of Josep Grau-Garriga (Spain), and other sculptural textile art.

Kela Cremaschi (Argentina-Italia, 1940) is a textile artist, master weaver, immensely creative and a humanist. Her works stand out particularly for her own technique in weaving.

SILKE (Austria-Argentina, 1943) is a multidisciplinary textile artist, whose style with colour, spirituality, humanism and contemporary vision of humanity shows a deep reflection of life.


Sacred thunder beings, 180 x 251 cm , Alpaca wool, cotton, mixed fibers. Hand-woven Tapestry

Detail, Sacred thunder beings, 180 x 251 cm, Hand-woven Tapestry


What role do you think fibre art plays in contemporary art?

Fibre art fulfills an important role in visual arts: it is the patrimony of cultures, an expression of the reality of the people and of nations. It is a mode of political action, as well as a particular esthetic view. Fibre art in some of its techniques as a woven tapestry in our time is a showing of patience and a genuine expression of patience and virtuosity. It is also a genuine expression of the people and a valid testimony for the history of humanity.


Solstice, 35 x 21 cm, Alpaca wool, cotton, mixed fibers. Hand-woven Tapestry


Can you talk a bit about the commercial viability of fibre art and do you find it more difficult to show and sell your work than non-fibre artists?

In the beginning of my work in the 1980s, the basis of my work was in innovation, design, colour and technique. I was looking for a personal language that would allow my work to be accepted in centers of distribution and along those lines was heading along a route to creating my own line of textile art. Through the years, I have always lived for weaving.


Spiritual Paths, 180 x 268 cm, Alpaca wool, cotton, mixed fibers. Hand-woven Tapestry

Detail 1, Spiritual Paths, 180 x 268 cm, Hand-woven Tapestry

Detail 2, Spiritual Paths, 180 x 268 cm, Hand-woven Tapestry

Detail 3, Spiritual Paths, 180 x 268 cm, Hand-woven Tapestry


What is your philosophy about the Art that you create?

My philosophy is to work honestly with the best and greatest of feeling, emotion, spirituality and energy. I want it to serve as a voice to this age and time, its territory and thought, as a form of testimony. I believe in life as a marvelous opportunity of self-realization with that which one creates and to have that which I create transcending time.



Spring of Love, 178 x 258 cm, Alpaca wool, cotton, mixed fibers. Hand-woven Tapestry


Are you attempting to evoke particular feelings in your audience?

I hope to provoke an encounter with an explosion of colours that generate joy and positive emotion. Through the use of profound subject matter and lyrical, poetic and spiritual messages, I hope as well to provoke vitality, continuity and renovation. Equally, an encounter with technical detail and audacity, both mysterious and age old, that generates a reflection of the infinite possibilities in life and knowledge that one can dream and that anything is possible.



Vuelo sobre campos fertiles, 120 x 120 cm, Alpaca wool, cotton, mixed fibers. Hand-woven Tapestry


When did you first discover your creative talents?

I had the good fortune as a child to have access to collections of books that displayed the grand masters of the world of painting, and this inspired me to draw and paint reproducing their works. From these drawings and paintings I learned ability within me that I liked greatly, and later in my father's workshop manifested itself in exploration, investigation, and creation of new things. After having attended an exposition of art by the Argentine textile artist Kela Cremaschi, who lived in Lima in the 1980s, I decided to pursue design, painting, and art of other kinds for use in the creation of my tapestries.



Alabanzas Sagradas en la Jungla, 180 x 303 cm, Hand-woven Tapestry

Detail, Alabanzas Sagradas en la Jungla, 180 x 303 cm, Hand-woven Tapestry


Please explain how you developed your own style.

The work begins with a linear design, from either a sketch or as a continuation of another design, giving place to a series of designs on a theme. These drawings are then painted as a projection to the full size of the tapestry. In the painting it is therefore necessary to consider what will be woven, and to keep in mind the limitations of the weaving. It is prepared as a cartoon, with the characterizations of measure, interpretations of colour, technique and finishing. The materials are then selected and the colours blended to correspond to the painting. It then goes to the loom with all of the aforementioned materials principally applying the Laura technique. After cutting the tapestry from the loom, the tapestry is finished and hung as a work of art.


Artist Maximo Laura


How does your early work differ from what you are doing now?

My early works are from the 1980s. They were geometric and their themes were principally recreations of iconography, mythology, and symbolism of ancestral Andean cultures. Also, they were reproductions of contemporary paintings. The techniques were experimental and varied, with limited colour. Actually, one can well notice in the work the influence of Peruvian culture. There is a development of permanent experimentation, and a search of poetic, lyrical, and dramatic language using the design, colour, technique and my own style. The themes are varied and formats are ever evolving in depth and size.



Dia de la Abundancia, 122 x 183 cm , Alpaca wool, cotton, mixed fibers. Hand-woven Tapestry


Have you experienced fluctuations in your productivity and how have your expectations changed through the years?

From the 1980s to the present I have dedicated myself completely to weaving, principally in tapestry form. In that time, I have experimented with colour, technique and design, teaching and promoting my country to the world. In all this time, the focus of priority in these aspects was the difference, and there have been times where the research of techniques, exploration of colour, depth of theme, promotional trips, teaching of youth, etc were the forefront of that priority. It is the mural that perpetually attracts my attention, as well as the development of sculptural and constructive artworks. I believe I am very lucky to have taken this path with weaving. I am very fortunate where my goals have always been exceeded by what I was looking for, and for that I am thankful for the life I have lived. Also, I am fortunate to live side by side with talented and creative personal assistants in my workshop.


Guerreros de la Luz I, 120 x 226 cm, Alpaca wool, cotton, mixed fibers. Hand-woven Tapestry


What project has given you the most satisfaction and why?

To complete works in the form of mural and miniature are two examples of projects that give me great satisfaction. Through them, I am able to develop profound themes, intricate and essential to the soul and the thoughts of man. I am able to stop and reflect, to think about the details of each element in the composition of the work. It is a form of birth of a work largely cared for and anticipated, as well as a feeling of peace and love of self.


Maximo Laura weaving on the loom.


How did you initially start showing your work in galleries?

It began in 1985 as part of the International Biennial of Miniature. It was in 1987 that I first had an individual exhibition in a gallery in Lima and I felt that I had begun my contact with the public. Also I remember those days as some of the busiest and most beautiful before the realization of that exhibition.


Tell us about how you broke into showing your work internationally?

In 1985 I participated in a contest organized by UNESCO, and my work was awarded and chosen to be part of the permanent exhibition of the organizers of the event. Also, it was to be shown at an event in Spain, from that point it has been shown in subsequent exhibitions around the world.



Laboratory colours of Maximo Laura's workshop in Lima, Peru.


You lecture in Art and Contemporary Andean textile design. Tell us about that.

The constant research, contact and amazement for the South American center of textile art, which is very rich, singular, extraordinary and interminable, has inspired me to systemize in distinct forms to present and teach. For example: seminars, workshops, conferences, consultations, and technical assistance. The themes are distinct and deal with iconography which is very broad through the existence of many cultures and with abundant material; laws of formation of design that are applicable to contemporary products. I share these themes with artisans, textile artists, fashion designers, students and the general public both in Peru and abroad.


Laura weaving techniques.


What project has given you the most satisfaction and why?

That would be the competitions of international textile art in great format, like in Lodz, Poland, "From Lausanne to Beijing", China; Tournai, Belgium; Cartoons to Aubusson, etc. Those inspire me to prepare interesting cartoons and my capacity, abilities and feelings to put at the disposition of the work. It is when I see that my language can be systemized, to understand and learn of it in order to re-invent myself and deepen my creativity.


Maximo Laura weaving on the loom.


Tell us about your studio and how you work:

I have a studio in Lima, which has several horizontal and vertical looms, areas for materials, design, cartooning, and exhibition. I consider the tapestry as a project and its elaboration as complex, slow and specialized, for that I work in a workshop with a team. I share this work, from design to realization of the tapestry, with personal assistants. I divide this work into three steps: pre-loom, loom, and post-loom.


Maximo Laura sketching in his studio.


Where do you imagine your work in five years?

At the center of my immediate desires is to complete a constructive sculptural textile artwork in a big format. I think that the emphasis will be in the technical aspects. They are old dreams that I want to see realized, also my cartoons of the mural that are waiting to be fulfilled.


Maximo Laura's gallery.


Is there anything else you would like us to know about your work or yourself that we have not touched on?

I am involved in organizations like REDTEXTILIA (Iberoamerican Textile Network), CEPART (Peruvian Center of Textile Art) in which I support and aid the promotion and visibility of textile art in this continent as well as my country. In 2013 Peru will host the first National Textile Biennial, and in 2014 the Iberoamerican Encounter of REDTEXTILIA through the first International Biennial textile "Texturas" in Peru. Also my studio LTW (Laura Tapestry Workshop) will receive residents and workshops in Lima.


Maximo Laura's reception hall.


What interests you about the World of Threads Festival?

I consider the World of Threads Festival as one of the most important events in the world of International Textile Art. For me, it is an honour to be part of this event, also to share with prestigious and important artists, which is a pleasure and inspiring relationship.


Maximo Laura's studio.



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Interviews published by Gareth Bate & Dawne Rudman.