Commentary, Travel

A Town Painted the Color of Joy

Jandel at Work (Photo: Milton Rodríguez)

In the province of Huarochirí about midway up the Lurin River Valley, some 60 kilometers from Lima, you will find Antioquía. Visiting it is like entering a storybook of gigantic proportions. Walking each block is like walking through a story and a different page.

Some years ago, due to the deteriorated state of the house fronts, the Centro de Investigación, Educación, y Desarrollo (CIED)—the Center for Research, Education and Development, together with the municipality and the townsmen started a project of re-valuation. They transformed in the process not only the town, but its people.

Painting on the Walls (Photo: Gaby Filgueira )
Painting on the Walls (Photo: Gaby Filgueira )

Under the leadership of the painter Enrique Bustamante, a group of Peruvian artists together with colleagues from Uruguay and Argentina formed the project they called “Colors for Antioquía” (Colores para Antioquía). The town was converted into a giant retablo with nameless cobbled streets waiting for tourists to arrive.

Its church, its municipal building, its stores and its homes all carry on their facades colorful birds, flowers, stars and angles en a primitive style that gives them a particular charm.

Jandel and His Museum (Photo: Milton Rodriguez)
Jandel and His Museum (Photo: Milton Rodriguez)

A 24 year-old man, Jandel (pronounced Handel) lives in Antioquía. He crates wonders by carving the stones of the area along with tree roots. Though he has no formal support, Jandel has opened in his home his own museum where he shows the beauty of his art.

Fundamentally, it is Jandel’s hard work in this remote town of the mountains of Lima, a place where there has not been much hope for the dreams of youth. Jandel looks for materials he might carve by climbing up the nearby hillsides, such as those of the hills Chamana, Huascasana, and Cinco.

Antioquia in the Mountains of Lima (Photo: Gaby Filgueira)
Antioquia in the Mountains of Lima (Photo: Gaby Filgueira)

Besides being considered archeological sites, they form part of the great Inca highway, called the Qhapaq Ñan, the Noble Way.

 

Antioquía is a world of colors perfumed by flowering quinces and apples and blessed with their jams and vinegars. It is ornamented by the rocks and roots that Jandel carves, and enriched by the goodwill of its few inhabitants. Fundamentally, though, it is painted with the color of joy that is always the step that comes before hope.

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