Olga Blinder (1921 - 2008)

Ñandutí III (1961)

Woodcut on paper
height: 32cm
width: 41cm

Donated by Olga Blinder 1996


The theme of labour is also addressed in this woodcut depicting three women crafting Ñandutí, a type of Paraguayan lace made in a circular form like a spider’s web (the meaning of its Guaraní name). The Ñandutí circles are stitched into larger clothes, like the background to this work. The rich interweaving of shapes evokes the designs of the Ñandutí itself, as well as those found in indigenous basketry, textiles and pottery. The presence in the women’s dresses of motifs of both indigenous and European origin highlights the diverse traditions underlying cultural forms like Ñandutí, and Paraguayan culture itself.

(Display caption from the exhibition Southern Press: Prints from Brazil, Paraguay and Chile, firstsite, 2011-2012)

Ian Dudley, 2011

The Ñandutí of the title is a type of lace made in circular form like a spider's web, the centre filled with intricate and infinitely varied designs woven with a needle in and around the supporting spokes. These circles are then stitched together to form larger cloths such as the one that forms the backdrop to the main scene of women working. Ñandutí is not of indigenous origin, however. As in so many parts of Latin America, a European idea has been adopted and skilfully adapted by local artisans. In this case a type of lace imported into Paraguay from Spain and the Canary Islands in the eighteenth century has been transformed into a local art form and given a Guaraní name meaning spider's web. As Blinder makes clear, however, such imported forms complement rather than replace existing styles and iconography. The three women concentrating on creating their lace circles are all dressed in garments of different designs. The figure in the foreground wears a fabric decorated with leaves and organic forms, perhaps also deriving from European designs. Another has a motif of a four-headed beast that alternates between white on black and black on white, while the garment of the third (upper left) has an interlocking double-headed serpent motif reminiscent of designs on baskets made by the Mbyá Guaraní peoples of southern Paraguay. Blinder, like other artists of her generation, often draws inspiration from the abstract tendencies of indigenous visual traditions to create work that chimes with international modernist aesthetics while remaining unmistakably Paraguayan.

Valerie Fraser, 2008

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