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INTI's Ancient Wisdom

Words:

Edd Norval
July 5, 2018

INTI's work is an anomaly. Despite utilising elements of surrealism and magical realism, they manage to connect with people is a very straightforward manner. The symbols he uses manage to communicate ideas that have roots in his country's indigenous and religious past.

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The magic of belief is something that inspires INTI. You can see that in his work. The Chilean street artist emerged from a country and continent well-known for their unique take on life through magical realism. The novels and films that dominate the genre show life as it really is - that's the realism part. It also shows life as the characters see it - that's the magical part.


As people make their way through day-to-day life, their interpretation of reality is only in part determined by the scientific, that is - the provable. Physics, biology and chemistry dictate all that is happening around us, although there always seems to be more. Belief systems, giving way to certain esoteric philosophies and religions that in turn bear many rituals and practices, are best explained or understood through their intangible qualities. They're the things that guide people and make them feel.


Life in Chile is permeated with such beliefs. From the supernatural to the superstitious, people are inspired and driven by the thick layers of history that has paved the way for the lives they currently lead. Ancient mythology, folklore and fairytales give people a means of communicating with their roots, with a world that exists predominantly in their own psychological space. That doesn't make it less true. On the contrary, it makes it more true. Magical realism goes a long way in capturing the way that people are susceptible to interpreting the scientific through their own innate beliefs.

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INTI's artwork is a unique interpretation of this phenomenon. The figures borrow from folklore, building on both his country's and his own personal beliefs - by manifesting them through his art, he offers them an avenue to enter our lives, to become real in our world. Essentially, he's using magical elements to make real points about the real world.


So, what real points is he making? The figures, beclad in traditional patchwork garments, native to certain South American regions, are often carrying something or doing something. Objects range from animals to tools. They're often depicted to seem like peasant farmers, people of the earth. The accompanying imagery stems from Incan and Catholic beliefs - the predominant sources of cultural heritage in Chile.


Magical realism and surrealism are often inherently political movements. By celebrating the roots of his country's existence, the figures stand in the way of the encroaching hands of globalisation.


INTI is the Incan sun god, not just an artist. As an artist he embodies that role, giving life to ideas, just as the sun gives life to everything on earth. The sun is something that has been interpreted in various manners throughout civilisations all over the world. Sacrifices were made in its name. Dances were choreographed to make it shine. This means that by choosing to use this name in the artistic realm, INTI takes on the role of creator. He is not necessarily playing God, but he's embracing the role of an all-knowing figure. Someone that can pass on great knowledge.

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Undeniably modern, his murals emanate a particularly ancient sense of belonging. Although intelligently rendered and composed, there is an element of primitivism to the figures. They're not one thing or another. INTI uses their lack of faces and expressions as a means of turning the focus onto the whole picture. By drawing from ancient civilisations' imagery, he is able to tap into a primal energy source that makes his willingness to tackle issues such as poverty and injustice become subconsciously affecting and accessible.


INTI'S aesthetic exploration of his native country's syncretic belief and value systems has proved popular. He's managed to become one of the leading figures of Latin American street art, a difficult feat considering the quality of work that comes from that part of the world. Recently, in the face of white-knuckle globalisation, there has been a yearning for something deeper - for people to reconnect with their ancients. INTI creates work that sates this desire.


The scale of his work gives it such power and reach that they often look like altars to an unknown deity. INTI infuses the cultural values of his own heritage with messages that are essential for our contemporary world, especially if we are to move on and grow in a less destructive manner than we have been doing. By harnessing the old, he's ushering in a new vision for the future. INTI's art is unlike most others in the world at the moment. Whilst it's uniquely South American, it's also speaking a global language that's telling universal truths.

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