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Felipe Lettersten

The Artist

  Born in Peru of Swedish parents, Felipe grew up among Quechua Indians hearing wild stories like that of the "Uma", The Flying Head of the Andes or like the Chuyaichaki of the Amazon jungle. When he was seven years old his father took him to the jungle of Tingo Maria, National Park. There he fell in love with nature. He had the chance to travel a lot because of his father's job. When he was only ten he was taken around the world. It was a Christmas present and he chose to see the Taj Mahal in India. His sister Michele was more inclined to see Nefertiti's head so we went to Egypt. Big was our surprise when we found out that it had been stolen by the Germans and was now in Berlin, still we met the Arabs and the Pyramids, rode camels and saw the Nile River.

The indians were different and so where the Chinese of Hong Kong, the Filipinos, the Australians, the Maori of New Zealand and the Polynesian paradise people.
Only two years later he went with his Dad to East Africa and met the Mazai people on the road between Kenya and Tanzania and on their way to the Nongorongoro Crater. He was amazed to see all the animals he saw in that microworld.

He studied all of his life in Markham School where he learned English, French and Latin, this last one served him in the future when he had to learn Italian and Portuquese. The Swedish came naturally to him at home as some of the Viking traditions like drinking and singing at the table. His grades were good, however and he managed to enter to the University of San Diego. There he took a ceramic class and for the first time had his hands in clay. He then discovered he had a gift, the one of a sculptor. He studied sculpture in the Fine Arts School of Florence in Italy, but it was only years later that he discovered the Hyper-realistic style in Holland. Gradually with the help of his master Marcelino Alvarez, he discovered the skill of casting a living person, from head to toe, in plater. He started out doing life-size sculptures of the Street Vendors, but the peruvian jungle was calling him. Finally he became an adventurer searching for the hidden tribes of the Amazon and was fascinated with those innocent and beautiful people. To be able to make these travels useful, he thought of making axact replicas of individuals that he found, almost like waiting for him.

Felipe Lettersten
  At the age of seventeen Felipe accompanied by four friends from Lima, in a pick-up truck, across the Andes heading down to the jungle of Tingo Mariafor the second time in his life. They crossed the river Monzon with the truck atop two canoes that were tied together in a very rudimentary and dangerous manner.

The old hanging wooden bridge had fallen and many cars and trucks had stayed on the other side for years. When people saw us driving the muddy road thought that a new bridge had been built and became amazed to discover that we had done it the way we did. Since then they started to dare to cross as we did.

Felipe was finally back to the paradise he had seen as a kid.

  Just before doing the homage to the native people of the world, Felipe was drawn into preserving the disappearing Street Vendors of Lima, Peru. After six months of going to the markets of Tacora looking for old carts used as a medium of transporting their small businesses as ice cone maker, the herbal medicine woman, the shoshine boy, the knife sharpener, the photographer and the popular anticuchera who sells beefheart shishkabobs in the streets. The last of this collection was a necklace saleswoman that happened to be a Shipiba Indian from Pucalpa. For this Felipe had to travel in his old truck to the jungle, without knowing that this sculpture would become the first one of the Sons Of Our Land collection.

The Arts - "The New York Times"