At the recent ARMORY SHOW (September 8 to 10, 2023), the historical art fair in New York City, soft art took center stage. In a fair that, after a few years of aesthetic uniformity, seemed to have finally rediscovered the richness of the contemporary art scene, among the many new trends, the one that jumped out most was precisely art made with textiles and fabrics. Wandering around the booths of the more than 200 of the world’s leading galleries (although a few illustrious defections stood out at this year’s edition), one encountered many works made with fabrics, yarns and textiles, in the most diverse styles and techniques.
Some works evoked the traditional weaving of indigenous peoples to the American continent, such as the punching bags turned into totems by Native American artist, Jeffrey Gibson or like the rugs by Arleene Correa Valencia who uses this medium to talk about immigration.
Immigration is also the subject of the tapestries Consuelo Jimenez Underwood creates with pieces of cloth reproducing the road sign at the Mexican border warning motorists of the risk of “migrant crossing,” held together by safety pins.
In other works, textiles become a vehicle for abstraction and contemporaneity, as in the intricate minimal compositions of Analia Saban or as in the “soft stone” created by Sheila Hicks and exhibited by the Massimo Minini – Francesca Minini gallery or again as in the soft suns reproduced by Zhao Zhao in her A Long Day 10Am.
The material is not textile but the techniques and final effect are, in the work of Moffat Takadiwa whose tapestries created from discarded plastics were on display in the Nicodima gallery spaces.
Even in the central spaces that housed the special projects of the Platform section, there was no shortage of arte morbida, with Pae White’s installation that, through a series of panels suspended from the ceiling, launches a critique of the textile industry