This volume traces in text and photographs the life and work of Peruvian folk artist Nicario Jimenez Quispe. Preface; Robert J. Loescher; Popular Art and Social Change in the Andes and Beyond: The Retablos of Nicario Jimenez Quispe is a text that celebrates mestizaje. It highlights the richness of a culture that has evolved from the syncretizing of indigenous Andean and immigrant European traditions. Featuring the Peruvian retablo, unquestionably one of the most distinctive genres of Latin American "folk" or "popular" art, this book provides not only aesthetic delight, but documents the culture, politics, and history of the Quechua-speaking communities of the Altiplano of Peru. The vitality resulting from the creative tension between tradition and change is the central theme underlying this collection of essays. While the retablo maintains formal and functional relationships to its colonial and ancient American past, it continues to evolve both in form and content by continually incorporating new and relevant subject matter and concerns related to the present.
The chronological range covered by the authors offers the reader a unique opportunity to observe how an art form developed from its inception to its most recent manifestations. Traditionally anonymous, many Latin American folk or popular artists now have established reputations. Nicario Jimenez Quispe is among the best-known contemporary retablo makers in Peru. He is visually articulate in rendering socio-political images of the present and completely comfortable depicting traditional religious themes. Viewing his works, one can easily appreciate that many are equivalent to the best examples of politically astute "fine art" being produced anywhere. These works speak to issues of political chaos, human aggression, and ecological disaster with unparalleled poignancy and virtuosity.