Moico Yaker makes complex, meticulously rendered paintings that at first glimpse can look like richly textured rugs. Closer inspection reveals scenes of violence, ritual, and celebration that evoke life in the hinterlands of his native Peru. Yaker starts with a deceptively decorative premise and twists it into a vision that brings together the naive and the surreal, a transposing of Hieronymus Bosch onto the Andes. These are works to study, to savor, and, often, to shudder at.
This exhibition, “Nuevos Puestos” (New Positions), featured ten of these paintings (all 2004). In Bronca I (Rage I), the canvas is covered with dark figures dressed in ponchos and petticoats, hurling stones at each other against a blood-red field. Bronca II continues the fight but here the figures are wrestling and whacking each other with sticks. The feeling is one of futile, epochal conflict, only rarely redressed by anything approaching justice, as in Desenlace (Outcome), where a sprawling scene of beatings, masked men, and a helicopter is offset by a crowd of people standing in a line and holding portraits, as if petitioning for answers to the whereabouts of their loved ones.
Other works depict merriment, medicine, and the exuberance of life on the forested eastern slopes of the Andes – worlds of hankerchief-twirling dances, thatched huts, hummingbirds, and copulating grasshoppers. Yaker gives them a somber, grave power with an earthy palette.
These works appropriate scenes from the paintings of Horacio Urteaga, a leader of the indigenista movement who painted Andean indigenous customs in the first half of the 20th Century. Like Urteaga, Yaker mixes horror and love for his native land with layers of meaning that unfold before the patient viewer.
— Roger Atwood