Khipus in Modern and Contemporary Art

How khipus influenced art

MALI, Museo de Arte de Lima

Inspiration from heritage

The khipu has served as a permanent form of inspiration for modern and contemporary artists working with topics related to the Image and the Word.

Sketch (1940/1960) by Apu-Rimak [Alejandro Gonzáles Trujillo]MALI, Museo de Arte de Lima

Throughout the twentieth century, artists as Elena Izcue and Alejandro Gonzáles Trujillo (Apu-Rimak) included khipus in their artistic productions. 

Progresión gris (1966) by Jorge EielsonMALI, Museo de Arte de Lima


During the 1960s, the Peruvian artist Jorge Eduardo Eielson (Lima, April 13, 1924 – Milan, March 8, 2006) began a process of experimentation with different materials applied to his canvases.

The tension, folds, and twists of such elements—which sometimes included clothing—eventually came to include the braiding of knots in and on the cloth.    

The knot, an atavistic manual gesture, took on a central role in the artist’s imagination, who consciously sought to link his works to the pre-Columbian tradition by referring to them as “khipu.” 

Eielson’s earliest khipus feature consecutive series and monochrome units conceived as structures that aim to achieve a certain degree of spatial integration. 

This personal knot-based notation system gradually expanded until taking the form of sculptures, spatial projections in the form of installations, or elements enveloping the body of various female models in performances orchestrated by the artist in urban spaces.  

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