Shauna Peterson Humanities and Social Science
Reconstructing the Two-Dimensional: Planimetric Designs in Colonial Peru
To the European mind, conditioned by the Renaissance ideals of linear perspective, the two-dimensional patterns of the indigenous people of colonial-era Peru proposed a very different conception of space. In an attempt to qualify a process that defies traditional Renaissance visual standards, art historians termed the indigenous artists conversion of three-dimensional forms into flat patterns planimetricism. Through an examination of a colonial Peruvian tapestry and its relationship with Inca textiles and contemporary colonial church faade decoration I will address both pre-Conquest and European influences and ultimately, suggest that these two-dimensional patterns, as forms of non-figural representation, transcend the merely decorative. A historical perspective can provide the means to thoroughly deconstruct the significance of planimetric pattern in Peru and subsequently, reconstruct the purely decorative as the narrative of a bygone era of cultural exchange.