Jacqueline Unanue

Profound Memory (Profundo Recuerdo)
acrylic on canvas
36 x 24 in.

While studying design in my native Chile in the 1970s, I became interested in pre-Columbian cultures, especially in the rock art done in my own country. I was encouraged to do further research by Hans Niemeyer, a renowned archeologist.

Together with my husband Ricardo Guajardo, who is also a designer and graphic artist, I visited the solitary and awe-inspiring valleys, mountains, deserts and rock formations of Chile, which are repositories of this art. I also traveled to Spain to study the caves of Altimira in the Basque country, which being the home of my paternal ancestors connected me to my roots.

My work—be it in textile and graphic art or painting—springs from this research and exploration and concerns my connection to an ancient past. Just as a poet uses letters and words to compose verses, I use the signs found in rock art to create new poetic spaces. While these signs exist externally, I feel that I am also extracting and recovering them from my own memory. They recreate my own ancient experience and remind me that my present existence is the sum and culmination of the lives of all my ancestors.

I am now immersed in painting, using mural pastes to achieve textures similar to those of mineral and rock surfaces. I then apply acrylic paint that recreates the ochre colors of the desert, the maroons of the earth, the dark reds of hidden minerals, as w

These images persist as figurative signs and abstract gestures, like a mysterious and occult writing that directs me to my collective unconscious lest I forget that I have existed since time immemorial.

© Jacqueline Unanue