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The paintings of Ellen Altfest are ethereal in their detail. Fields of minutiae come together as pulsating images; small brushstrokes of oil paint accumulate over a series of months to single out seemingly innocuous subjects, such as a hand resting atop patterned fabric (The Hand, 2011) or a deep green cactus reaching upwards from beneath a bed of...
On the rooftop of the former Rio Hotel complex in Colombo, it was hard to ignore the high-rise buildings, still under construction, blocking all but a sliver of what used to be an open view over Slave Island, once an island on Beira Lake that housed slaves in the 19th century, and now a downtown suburb. The hotel was set alight during the...
Gazelli Art House is delighted to present, Aziz + Cucher: Tapestries and New Works on Paper. The artist duo will exhibit four tapestries from the series Some People Tapestry Cycle created between 2014-2017 and five unique works on paper from the Frieze series created earlier this year.
The Some People Tapestry Cycle is a series of jacquard tapestries overseen by Magnolia Editions and executed on a digital Jacquard loom in Belgium. Beginning the series in 2014, these woven works depict conflict by utilising the rich tradition of pictorial storytelling. Traditional European tapestries achieved their high point as an art form precisely at the time of the consolidation of the political and economic structures that would come to define the Modern world. Curious to see what it would mean to revisit the traditional medium through a contemporary lens, the collaborative duo wonderfully illustrates how our modern powers are being vigorously assaulted from a multitude of paradoxical extremes.
For the creation of the tapestries, they begin by outfitting dancers in customised attire and then ask them to adopt dramatic postures against a green screen. Once these poses are captured, they are sutured into a digital composition. The gures are then collaged into complex compositions set in quasi-Biblical landscapes. From there, the collages become translated into digital weaving files allowing them to utilise the abundant possibilities of the loom's patterns and subtle gradations of colour. The jacquard loom gives the works a sensuous materiality that belies the digital nature of the process behind their making.
These monumental tapestries can be read as Historical Paintings of the Present Moment. Multiple narrative strands are merged as a result of the inherent attening that occurs through the weaving process. This also serves as a metaphor for the flattening of time and space as experienced in the image stream of the Internet and the 24-hour news cycle. The artists have described their feeling of being 'caught in the conundrum of history'-a phrase that likewise describes the genre of history painting, and their own work's eerie combination of stasis and turbulence.
The imagery in the tapestries contains 'innumerable figures, intentionally non-specific. Are they refugees? freedom fighters? terrorists? tourists? And what are they up to?" They range from dramatic to the mundane, from lyrical to the absurd, in an ever-shifting point of view that does not evade from the complexities and contradictions we inhabit in the contemporary world.
Glenn Adamson writes, 'In America and Europe, there is a sense that society is deeply fractured, at odds with itself. And-partly as a result of this dysfunction-there are actual civil wars unfolding, in Syria and elsewhere. is is the literal and gurative background for Aziz + Cucher's powerful new tapestries, each of which shows a pageant of bodies, in freeze-frame against an unsettled landscape, pinned like butterflies within time and space itself.'
Juxtaposing the Some People tapestries, the Frieze series are unique works on paper. Borrowing similar techniques used to create the tapestries, Aziz + Cucher have translated them into a process that includes inkjet printing, silk-screen and gold leafing. Through these works the motif of dancing figures, which appears in the distance of the Some People tapestries, are brought to the fore and stand in marked contrast to the turbulent and dark world found in the tapestry works.
Anthony Aziz (b. Massachusetts) and Sammy Cucher (b. Lima, Peru) have been living and working together since 1991 when they met at the San Francisco Art Institute. They are both members of the Fine Arts faculty at Parsons School of Design/ e New School in New York and are based in Brooklyn. Aziz + Cucher have exhibited their work in museums and festivals world-wide, including the Venice Biennale, Biennale de Lyon, New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, List Visual Art Centre at MIT, National Gallery of Berlin, and the Foun- dation Cartier in Paris. They have received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, and the New York Foundation for the Arts.
Glenn Adamson, Aziz + Cucher: Tapestries and New Works on Paper, Catalogue 2018, Gazelli Art House.
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