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On Felipe Mujica.

  • Profile
  • Apr 11 2024
  • María Inés Plaza Lazo
    is editor-at-large, publisher and founder of Arts of the Working Class.

"Geometry is everywhere," provides a concise yet expansive notion of planetary existence that infuses the conversations I had recently with Chilean artist Felipe Mujica about his own artistic practice. I knocked at his studio door: there they were, lines drawn across the wall, the square connecting the kitchen with the living room, the vanishing point behind the long table in the middle of it all. The circles of cups, blue diagonals on turquoise fabrics that are image and curtain alike.

Our conversations meandered around the fabrics hanging in his home studio in Brussels. Here, I am immediately drawn into a world where mathematics, culture, and nature converge. This is not only because of the patterns that Mujica creates, but also the practice of weaving that he shares with others, when it comes to weaving. Mujica teaches a workshop at the Museum of Industry in Ghent, where he collaborates with different groups of people of all ages to explore the traditions they have left behind in their homelands or in the past. He always returns to them as he talks about the shapes he produces.


For years now, Mujica’s textile projects have served as a site where geometric abstraction intersects with social engagement. He calls these pieces “curtains”. Each curtain project begins from a historical perspective on geometric abstraction, weaving together the formal and mathematical with the social. These curtains - described by Mujica as temporary and permeable architecture - embody collaboration and exchange, serving as surfaces where different forms of knowledge collide and evolve. Each is made from materials and techniques typical of the location where the work is created. Each is the result of a collaborative effort; collaboration is at the heart of Mujica’s practice. 

The process goes like this: Mujica first develops the design and the fabric, then others help him by sharing their know-how and skills. This way, every new work radiates the energy of the various makers and their origins, techniques, and customs. During his residence at the Museum of Industry, the fabrics have been partly machine-made using historical looms and the modern semi-automatic TC2, as well as being partly embroidered by hand. His practice traces the fine line between technology and craftsmanship, between the workshops and the museum.


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Along that fine line also lie the works of modernists such as Alexander Calder, Annie Albers, and Lina Bo Bardi. Invoking their names, and the sense of energy and movement intrinsic to their sculptural, weaving and architectural practices, the bold and gestural guide my gaze, which already wants to move rhythmically between the fabrics. The use of lines reflects Mujica's fascination with the interplay between precision and fluidity, and the blurring of the boundaries between art and mathematics, as well as integrating the colors and materials available in every locality in which he resides.

Initially, Mujica’s curtains appear on a small or medium-scale and are manufactured in the home studio of the artist or those of his collaborators. Over time, their scale increases and the working method evolves: collaboration and learning are forged in a process of knowledge exchange. In a letter to Sofía Olascoaga, a curator and researcher of spaces for creative action across territories spanning fromSão Paulo to Cuernavaca between 2017 and 2022, Mujica described how he observes his curtains according to the places in which they are understood as being simultaneously “furniture” and artwork:

“At Salvador’s school, I imagine them in the corridors, suspended from a system of wires from which they can be moved every so often, so that every time the children leave their classrooms they are faced with a new labyrinth.”


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At an apartment in New York, Mujica had a small curtain that he had created together with Mayan embroiderers in Guatemala during a residency in Antigua (Concepción 41). The community of artisans not only keeps alive a pre-Hispanic tradition of labour, but also a menagerie of shapes that give life to colors. In pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, geometric patterns were everywhere. In their weaving traditions, the Maya utilized geometric proportions and intricate carvings to construct everything from body decoration to ornate temples. Mujica’s collaboration focused on well-known examples of Maya architecture.

Mujica's exploration of shapes mirrors the diversity of his collaborators and workshops. From open to closed forms, Mujica's shapes offers a seriality that adapts to the skills and backgrounds of his partners. This multiplicity of shapes reflects a vocabulary shaped by personal and cultural encounters. For example, at Ibirapuera, the Central Park of Sao Paulo, under the Niemeyer marquee, which joins the Biennial pavilion with the other adjoining museums and spaces, Mujica dreams to hang curtains from wires across different trees, at different heights; they are plush, smooth, tropical trees of various sizes with thick trunks.


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In Stamford, a town in north-central New York state, Cay-Sophie Rabinowitz and Christian Ratemeyer started OSMOS Station, a residency and exhibition space that grew out from a book of drawings, and fully integrated the curatorial and editorial activities of OSMOS publishing, which annually produces a magazine and artists’ publications. Both Rabinowitz and Ratemeyer are not only experts at working in graphic and photographic archives, but are constantly inspired and activated by the genius loci of artists. They connect, intuitively, through natural forms, decorative motifs, using their deep art historical knowledge to engage with Mujica’s practice.

For his residency in Stamford, Mujica tried something new, namely working with a quiltmaker. Patterns unfold in quilts not only as geometric traditions, but also as visual narratives of migration and reinterpretation. And, as in the work of Sol LeWitt, seriality creates playful tessellations that transcend conceptual constraints. Each quilt, each curtain, becomes a testament to cultural evolution, offering glimpses into the ever-unfolding tapestry of human experience. 

El Cóndor Pasa is a Peruvian song by composer Daniel Alomía Robles, written in 1913 which is based on traditional Andean Music. The song is well known internationally from the 1970 version recorded by Simon & Garfunkel, which included English lyrics. In Mujica’s reinterpretation of the song, migration and expansion present parallels for a Chilean artist who migrated to New York 23 years ago. The Andean condor is one of the largest flying birds in the world and is occasionally seen flying around and over the Andes Mountains throughout Ecuador, Bolivia, Perú, and Chile, a region with a strong and ancestral textile histories, and to which Mujica remains strongly connected.

Felipe Mujica's journeys through cities and communities embody the mutually nourishing relationship between art, science, and cultural exchange. His works transcend aesthetics, proffering the warming embrace of artistic expression in a globalized world. Through his weaving and collaborations, Mujica invites us to embrace the myriad possibilities provided by geometry as an aspect of art, echoing timeless Andean melodies that soar over the Catskills, defining a story of migration, and reflecting the perpetual evolution of human narratives.


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    fig. 1: At Felipe Mujica's home studio in Brussels, February 2024. Foto: AWC

    Cover image, fig. 2-4: Felipe Mujica, El Cóndor Pasa, installation view, OSMOS STATION, 2023. Foto: Courtesy of the artist and OSMOS.



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