Jorge Eielson (b. 1924, Peru; d. 2006, Italy) 

Quipus 79b, 1978 
Painted canvas over wood 

Quipu knots became the formal and conceptual focus of works by Jorge E. Eielson beginning in 1963. Used by various ancient cultures of the Andean region, including the Inca of the artist’s native Peru, these knotted strings are understood as having served as numerical devices for collecting data, such as census and tax records or calendrical information. The full meaning of these patterned knots remains enigmatic however, a quality that drew the artist to engage them as symbols of a sophisticated, but not fully accessible cultural past. Working primarily in Rome, Eielson was in dialogue with avant-garde painting tendencies and his works evidence transnational interests in the monochrome and shaped canvas experiments, by pulling and knotting his paintings’ canvases into Quipu knots, as in the all-white Quipus 79b.