Camina el Autor: The New Chronicle and Good Government by Guaman Poma de Ayala

18 March - 12 April 2020
Lim Hak Tai Gallery, NAFA Campus 1, 80 Bencoolen Street, Singapore 189655

Camina el Autor with his son Francisco de Ayala to the City of Kings (Lima) to deliver his manuscript to his Highness (King of Spain).

Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) and the Embassy of Peru in Singapore are proud to present ‘Camina el Autor: The New Chronicle and Good Government by Guaman Poma de Ayala’, an exhibition showcasing the work of Peruvian chronicler Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala (1534-1615), which details an ambitious account of the whole Pre-Hispanic Andean history, the emergence of the Inca Empire and the impact of the Spanish conquest of Peru since 1532. Previously shown in Panama, Spain, Denmark and Vietnam, the exhibition will be shown at NAFA’s Lim Hak Tai Gallery from 18 March to 12 April, with an official opening on 17 March at 6.15pm.

32 panels of images with accompanying texts reproduced from the original manuscript completed in 1615 depict the harsh conditions of living under the Spanish rule. This manuscript is known as one of the most distinctive and historically reliable sources of early Peruvian history and culture. Guaman Poma de Ayala, an illustrator and historian, wrote the text and drew all 398 illustrations by hand and dedicated the work to the reigning King of Spain in the hope of improving colonial rule.

Dr Bridget Tracy Tan, Director of Institute of Southeast Asian Arts (ISEAA) and Art Galleries at NAFA pointed out that of particular significance to NAFA was the work’s focus on form and endeavor and how it conveyed the message through image and concise phrases. She said, “Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala deliberately left line drawings in black and white as he had intended for this to be reproduced easily and communicate deep issues through an economy of image and text. This underlines the importance of narrative and messaging functions in the applied arts. It relates as much to design and illustration as it does to photography, video and animation.”

Dr Tan further highlighted the significance and relevance of the manuscript to NAFA and its community, “Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala understood the concept of mestizo [mixed-blood], from the time of Spanish colonisation and interbreeding with the indigenous Inca people. As a noble, the sensitivity he showed in bridging the indigenous and colonials was seminal. He created a context of empathy and understanding, by rendering clear images through his document accompanied by messages without overt political intent.”

“Modern Southeast Asia is home to many combinations of indigenous cultures and hybrid identities. Our contemporary communities today face a time-crunch and urgency in mass media, the rapid pace of internet culture. Sensitively defined words and image have become ever more critical in our attempt to nurture informed and enriched relationships across cultures, demographics and political divides”, she added.

‘Camina el Autor: The New Chronicle and Good Government by Guaman Poma de Ayala’ commemorates 40 years of Peru-Singapore diplomatic relations and is an acknowledgement of the longstanding relationship between NAFA and the Embassy. Since 2006, an Embassy of Peru Award has been presented to the most outstanding NAFA graduate. The award is presented in the form of a solid silver crafted Tumi, a ceremonial knife which has its origins in Chimú culture from ancient Peru.

Ambassador of Peru to Singapore, His Excellency Carlos Vasquez, said that the exhibition illuminates similarities of colonial experiences in both South America and Southeast Asia, particularly in terms of the impact on local population. He hopes that this exhibition will help Singaporeans develop a better understanding of the complexities and richness of Peruvian society, and deepen the ties of both countries.

“I am happy to state that the Bilateral relations between Peru and Singapore have strengthened and diversified in the last few years for the mutual benefit of both peoples. The Embassy is also very proud to have developed very productive links with NAFA since a long time ago, for the reciprocal appreciation of our respective cultures. I expect the 40th anniversary to bring a new impetus and reinforce the relations of Peru with Singapore”, he said.

The Institute of Southeast Asian Arts (ISEAA) at NAFA has worked closely with several cultural partners over the years to bring in exhibition programmes for the benefit of primarily its students and faculty, and the arts community, with a focus on the contemporary context of a cosmopolitan regional identity. These partners include those from the Asia Pacific region such as Australia, Indonesia, Japan, The Philippines and Thailand, as well as further afield from France, Germany and Mexico.

ANNEX - Exhibition Publicity Image