Filder Agustín Peña 1980 - 2020

5/27/20

Filder Agustín Peña

1980 - 2020

 

en Español          en Français

While Gildar Gallery has been dormant undergoing a transformation, as its owner, I am greatly saddened to emerge to share the loss of the artist Filder Agustín Peña. Known also as Wish, an artist name given by his father, and Ronin Soi or Serpent of the Sweetwater in the Shipibo language, Filder passed away Monday, May 11th in Lima, Peru due to complications of coronavirus at the age of 39. Born in 1980 in the town of San Francisco, outside of Pucallpa, Peru along the Ucaliya River, Filder was a member of the Shipibo Conibo tribe. The Shipibo are one of the only indigenous groups in the region to successfully resist colonization by the Spanish empire. Globally, they are renowned for their knowledge of plant medicine and patterned Kené weaving. They are protectors of a threatened jungle region and way of life enmeshed with the vegetal and supernatural world. 
 

 

I was graced to get to know Filder in the past year after I came across his impressive paintings while spending time in the mountainous Sacred Valley of Peru where he lived with his wife Doriane and three daughters Lila, Pia and Camila. I was also lucky to have been entrusted to exhibit a small portion of his body of artwork from the past twenty years last September after returning to Denver. Earlier this year Filder invited me to travel with him to his village in the Amazon to better understand his life’s work, by participating in ceremony with him and meeting other indigenous painters he had taught to transmit their visions through paint. He was a transformative figure to many and his presence will be dearly missed.

At the age of 11 Filder started training as an Onanybo, or healer. Under the guidance of his grandfather, he learned to channel sacred songs known as Ikaros, administer cleansing dieting practices and to identify and prepare different medicinal plants. In his teens Filder picked up a paint brush without any formal training. Over twenty plus years his inventive compositions have marked a moment of transition in Shipibo culture as it has been drawn out from a historically reserved stance towards outsiders. Growing up in this time of change, Wish incorporated traditional Shipibo cosmovision imagery with the globally imported practice of painting on canvas, while adding his own stylistic and material innovations. For all the cultural significance his paintings contain, it is their unique visual pulse of formal pleasure that opens them to being appreciated by anyone. They simply draw you in.
 

 

As a young man living in the village of San Francisco, Filder had a vision that the anthropologist Doriane Slaghenauffi who was studying his tribe would become his wife. Making real on this prophecy, they moved together to the village of Taray in the Sacred Valley. There they raised their children as Filder continued to paint and offer guided ceremonies to spiritual travelers. His work has been exhibited in the National Museum in Lima as well as in Cusco, in Switzerland and by my gallery in Denver. Before his passing, we were preparing to show his work in exhibitions and art fairs once I returned to the US. Filder’s dream was to use the sale of his art to begin building an art and healing center next year in his village.

 

 

As a young man living in the village of San Francisco, Filder had a vision that the anthropologist Doriane Slaghenauffi who was studying his tribe would become his wife. Making real on this prophecy, they moved together to the village of Taray in the Sacred Valley. There they raised their children as Filder continued to paint and offer guided ceremonies to spiritual travelers. His work has been exhibited in the National Museum in Lima as well as in Cusco, in Switzerland and by my gallery in Denver. Before his passing, we were preparing to show his work in exhibitions and art fairs once I returned to the US. Filder’s dream was to use the sale of his art to begin building an art and healing center next year in his village.
 

I will miss Filder’s gentle humor, easy smile and soothing voice, of walking up the Andean hillside to his studio to drink tea and look at a new series of inspired paintings with him. Filder spoke of his artworks as thresholds into another realm of experience, one less dominated by ego and with greater awareness of universal consciousness. I am forever grateful that in his paintings he has left us with potent doorways into this ever more necessary realm.