Peruvian Ayahuasca Vision painters are noted for their use of rich color combinations and intense imagery in artistic expression. Seeing the songs of the plant throughout the ritual are illuminated in these vision paintings that bring the viewers into the painter’s personal experience while under the effects of the vine. New Amazonian vision paintings have circulation into main stream media through the energetic use of color and shamanistic mythology to create a metaphorical illumination of shaman understandings of the universe.
Pablo Amaringo was a Peruvian shaman responsible for introducing new Amazonian vision paintings to new generations of shaman and outsiders interested in the spiritual healing of ayahuasca. He founded the Usko Avar Amazonian School of Art in Pucallpa in 1988, which is dedicated to depicting and preserving the knowledge and ways of life of indigenous tribes of the Amazonian region. His vision paintings were a means of him understanding the value of relationships between human, animal and plants and the functions that they play in the meaning of life. Amaringo’s continual fascination with mature nature and the respect that we must give to the earth created a dialogue within the community of conservationist and logging industries to help preserve the pure fabric of the Amazon rainforest and the communities within the vast lands.
Ondas de la Ayahuasca envisions Ayahuasca and the magical and spiritual healing properties that is embeds into its users. The extreme use of bright color overlaid with contrasting themes of transformation, enlightenment and divine understandings invoke a pure visual map of the effects of the plant. The use of Ayahuasca and the transmission of messages of wisdom and knowledge throughout the body are referenced in the lower right corner of the piece, where a ceremony is taking place. These ceremonies not only cleanse the body of harmful toxins, but also help in curing mental illnesses and other chemical effects within the body.
El Encanto de las Piedras highlights the importance of ritual within the ceremony through the use of enchanted stones. These stones are not only important in their connection to divine powers, but also as a solid source in which to drain energies from the body. The stones reference the creation of the earth and give the shaman the ability to form a grounded relationship between mystical and medical healing. Various animals are portrayed along the right and left sides of the canvas referring to past shaman transformational depictions used in the understanding of vision art and historical context.
With Pablo Amaringo’s creation of the school for new Amazonian art, various artists influenced by his work have trained in the ancient traditions of ayahuasca shamanism and tell their own personal stories through the medium. Alfredo Zagaceta came from minimal beginnings in the Ucayali region of the Peruvian Amazon jungle. He went on to apprentice with Amaringo and learn the inner workings of ayahuasca vision art. His canvases comment on landscape and natural understanding of the past and present. In one untitled piece, a Shipibo shaman is seated in the center of the canvas in a hypnotic state representing the meditative nature of the brew and clarity one feels while under the control of the vine. The jaguar and panther one the right and left side of the piece represent the animal forms of local deities associated with the old ways of the people of the Amazon region. The piece references the need to resolve the conflict f the outside world and the need to preserve the old traditions of the people of the region. Zagaceta’s work deals with the need to have a concrete connection with the world around us and to always remember where we originated from. His use of animals and local plant life create a lasting memory of what is endangered and what needs to be saved for future generations.
The traditions of Amazonian shamanism in relation to art forms produced propel the importance of the drug from medical to artistic and illuminate the true meaning of vision healing to the rest of the world. Shaman traditions have gone unchanged throughout the influence of outside forces and continue to be a pure source of ancient practices of the region and a connection to the past in a disillusioned present.
Through the expression of various forms of ayahuasca vision art, we witness a growth in community and the relationship that individuals have to the world around them. Early traditions of vision art dealt with ceremonial aspects and shaman artisans were focused on the movement of lines with little concern for composition and framing elements. As world influences became to take form, we can see the shift into making compositions for the viewer, rather than form the ceremony. Both expressions of ayahuasca shaman vision art communicate the importance of healing the mind, body and spirit regarding the role that individuals play within the ecosystem of life and spiritual awakening.
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