The Ye’kwana Universe/Living in the middle of the jungle

The Juan Carlos Maldonado Art Collection now presents one of the most important nuclei of its heritage: the Ye’kwana collection. Comprised of a considerable number of works of art and utilitarian objects from this Amazonian ethnic group, this nucleus – let us call it anthropological – fulfills a central function within any modern collection: that of responding to that double longing of our time that, together with the desire for technological progress and human welfare, seeks to anchor its experience in the deepest psychological needs of humanity. Those needs that because they are primordial, we have described as primitive, first or primal. The Ye’kwana Universe/Living in the middle of the jungle is therefore an exhibition that brings together the most representative objects of this new nucleus of the JCMAC, which, in a dialogue that is as constant as it is necessary with its abstract-geometric center, both completes and enriches it at the same time.

Intending to show the public these objects in the most meaningful way possible – that is, explaining the how and why of their practical uses and their ever-present symbolic value – we have organized them into two large thematic blocks, namely:

  • Surviving in the middle of the rain forests: material life
  • The hidden forces: spiritual life

To accomplish this, we have decided to exhibit them in dialogue with the photographic work of the Swiss-Venezuelan artist Barbara Brndli, who worked within the Yekwana communities during the 1960s and who knew how to glean from the everyday the spirit of an exceptional community.

Lastly, the objects gathered in this exhibition come, for the most part, from the expeditions carried out by Venezuelan explorer Charles Brewer-Carías, who for more than sixty years traveled through Yekwana villages, studying their ways of life, both in their material and metaphysical expressions.


Ariel Jiménez