150.5 cm x 150.5 cm (59 1/4 in. x 59 1/4 in.)
Fernando de Szyszlo
(Lima, Peru, 1925 – 2017, San Isidro, Peru)
Latin America, Peruvian
Medium and Support:
Acrylic on wood
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Gift of John and Barbara Duncan, 1971
Fernando de Szyszlo is one of several Latin American abstract artists who claim a non-European, specifically indigenous tradition in their work. Inkarri has long been considered one of his masterpieces. The title, which is in Quechua, the indigenous language of the Andes, is indicative of de Szyszlo’s interest in connecting to ancient American traditions. Although the painting seems totally abstract at first, the title points to a specific narrative, allowing us to read the painting in symbolic rather than purely formal or abstract terms. Inkarri refers to a legend in which the last Inca ruler, Tupac Amaru, whose body was torn to pieces in 1572 by the Spanish, returns to reclaim his kingdom from the colonizers. Unlike the earlier generation of Peruvian indigenistas, de Szyszlo used a totally abstract and contemporary language to communicate this revolutionary narrative. Rather than record the historical details of the Tupac Amaru legend, Szyszlo has suggested the ruler’s resurrection in floating and altarlike forms that summon an evocative and magical universe.