Woven Forms, an exhibition of limited-edition handmade rugs created by some of the world’s most interesting designers, will be shown in South Africa for the first time at Southern Guild in Cape Town’s Silo District from 20 September to 21 November 2018.
The rug collection – a collaboration between New York gallery R & Company and Milan-based carpet producer Amini – was presented to the public for the first time at the 57th Venice Biennalein May 2017.
Woven Forms presents unique designs by Wendell Castle, Rogan Gregory, Dana Barnes, the Haas Brothers, Katie Stout, David Wiseman and Renate Müller, among others. Working within the rich history of carpet making in India and Nepal, the countries where the carpets are handmade, the exhibition re-examines the limits of craft and industry by offering the designers the opportunity to explore their ideas through textiles.
The project breaks the longstanding tradition of artists making carpets by printing a pre-existing painting, drawing, or photograph on a rug. Instead, each artist has created a unique design that considers the form, material and process while simultaneously reflecting their individual styles. All works are limited-edition pieces that took roughly six months to produce.
Evan Snyderman, co-founder of R & Company gallery, notes that each designer brought a unique approach to the collaboration. “Having no experience in carpet making opened up endless possibilities; without previous knowledge of the process they were not tethered by any limits normally associated with the craft,” he says. “The resulting designs pushed the boundaries of the medium, creating a more interesting collaboration with the makers themselves as they responded with new techniques and ways of making that they’d not yet considered.”
Wendell Castle’s carpets were created as a series of brush strokes, blending hundreds of colours together into patterns only a handful of skilled weavers in the world were able to achieve Rogan Gregory wanted a carpet so thick it could be carved in the same manner he employs when making his sculptures in wood or stone. This required rediscovering a lost process wherein the wool is woven wet so that it builds volume and weight as it dries.
The Haas Brothers created a series based on animal skins from long-extinct creatures. Knotting these dynamic patterns and colours into animal shapes was a triumph of skill by the craftspeople.
Renate Müller, the German toy designer, produced works pulled most directly from the three-dimensional objects they create, artfully reimagined in two dimensions. David Wiseman’s asymmetrical exploration of decorative patterns and motifs brought a level of detail unmatched in other carpet designs. Katie Stout created a work that is electric with energy and chaotic beauty, while Dana Barnes took rare and exquisitely ornate existing carpets and literally felted interventions onto the surfaces to create abstract paintings of soft wool.
The artists were chosen to participate in this project because of their unique talents and their interest in experimentation. The resulting collection pushes the boundaries of the medium, creating an extraordinary collaboration with the weavers themselves, who rediscovered ancient processes as well as new techniques and ways of making in order to realise these designs.
Woven Forms will be on show alongside House of Bronze, a group exhibition of bronze works by South African designers, at Southern Guild from 20 September to 21 November 2018.