There are still a couple of weeks to catch two worthwhile exhibits, one Mexican, one Japanese. Textile Museum of Canada
Huichol yarn paintings by José Benitez Sánchez are the stars of the show. They are shamanistic, visionary works of incredibly rich colour. The closest thing I can think of in European art is stained glass in cathedrals. The purpose is spiritual in both cases.
Peyote plays a role in the art of the Huicholes, but it is hardly the casual, recreational drug use of our society. Use of hallucinogenics is highly ritualized and accompanied by physical sacrifice and deprivation.
Surfaces are completely filled with detail and pattern, expressing the horror vacuii (fear of empty space) characteristic of this kind of art in many cultures. I don’t think it is really an expression of fear, but one of world view … that everything is alive and the universe is full. There is no void.
What a great idea is was to have a Japanese textile exhibit on at the same time as the Huicholes art. We see colours and motifs used in radically different ways. Japanese craftsmanship is meticulous and complex. The use of colour spans a much wider gamut that in the Huichol pieces; just as bright and with even more golden glitter sometimes, but also muted and restrained.
Japanese design has both pattern AND void, playing off one another. Both Huichol and Japanese artists draw from a deep and sustaining well of repsect and admiration for the natural world.