The pre-colunibian art of Panama


‘An exhibition of pre-Columbian pottery from Panama is an unusual event. The numerous exhibitions of pre-Columbian art held in Italy and in other European countries have in fact always centred on the great civilization of Mexico and Pera, practically ignoring those of Central America, con-sidered merely as an archaeological bridge between the two Americas. It is difficult for a single exhibition to give a complete picture of the many artistic expressions which grew up in this part of Central America. Even a partial view however, limited that is to Panama, is enough to appreciate that the pre-Columbian art of Central America is in no way inferior to that of better known areas and that it bas a greatness and an independence all its own. The pottery has an exquisite purity of shape and presents truly exceptional graphic solutions which find their equal only in the Nazca pottery of the southern coast of Peru and in that of the Indians of New Mexico and Arizona. These graphic solutions stand out for the profound vitality of the mythical sharks, crocodiles, birds and dra-gons painted on small plates and vases. Immobile yet not static. Looking at them one senses the fluidity of the water and the movement of the air or the sand thrown up by the running animals. Unlike other pre-Columbian cultures which tend to favour the portrayal of human beings, this Panama art shows us a fantastic universe with little room for humans. The few that do appear are always associated with animals. This was not a new phenomenon for the ancient Indian societies where the tendency was for superimposition rather than symbiosis: the indian would wear an animal mask when dancing in order to acquire the animal’s agility or strength. In the Panama pottery, man is all one with the animal, another Being, perhaps a god. Pre-Columbian archaeological research is still in its prime This exhibition would like to try and make known to a wider audience a reality so far restricted to a small circle of experts.’


25 Agosto 1990 - 10 Gennaio 1990


Exhibitions Meeting Exhibitions