*Featured photo: ‘Tre entità’ (Paola Besana, 1988)
Consejería de Cultura y Patrimonio Histórico (Regional Ministry of Culture and Historical Heritage)
Andalusian Centre for Contemporary Art
November 25 2021 – May 15 2022.
The exhibition ‘Textiles instalativos. Del medio al lugar’ transformed the Andalusian Centre for Contemporary Art spaces, bringing together, at CAAC Monumental Zone, eleven large-scale installations by six women artists.
The exhibition that opened on 25 November will be visible to the public until 15 May 2022.
Juan Antonio Álvarez Reyes curated the exhibition to emphasise the contemporary nature of textiles as an artistic medium. To do so, he showcased 11 large-scale works strategically installed in the former Carthusian Monastery of Santa María de las Cuevas Monumental and Capilla de Afuera spaces.
Six women from different generations are the protagonists of this event: Hellen Ascoli (Guatemala, 1984), Paola Besana (Italy, 1935-2021), Ulla von Brandenburg (Germany, 1974), Sheila Hicks (United States, 1934), Belén Rodríguez (Spain, 1981) and Pae White (United States, 1981).
The works of these artists are defined by abstraction and colour, large in scale; they radically transform the old church, the sacristy, the Capilla de Afuera and the refectory’s spaces, thus generating new and unexpected landscapes.
The textile medium has been explored in recent decades by numerous contemporary artists. Moreover, recently, there has been a re-evaluation of well-known artists who have used this medium in their careers.
This artistic medium has distinctive characteristics that make it unique, favouring its specificity and constant interrelation with other disciplines. Moreover, its hybrid nature, traditionally associated with female cultural production, favours a particularly connoted scenario. We must situate ourselves, aware of its aesthetic and anthropological, political and colonial implications.
This exhibition follows in the footsteps of others that have been produced on the international scene to date: from those that sought a relationship with contemporary art, such as “Textiles: Open Letter” (Museum Abteiberg, 2013), to presentations of the collection taking this medium as a unifying narrative element, as in the case of “Taking a Thread for a Walk” (MoMA, 2019).
The exhibition on show at CAAC, “Textiles instalativos. Del medio al lugar”, seeks a distinctive quality through the place where the pieces are exhibited, thus creating a dialogue with specific spaces that have been charged with stories over the centuries. The Monumental area of the former Carthusian monastery, where Columbus was buried and to which he donated his library, is related to European colonial expansion. Subsequently, the building’s industrial function as a ceramics factory is linked to the incipient globalisation of capitalism in the 19th century. Finally, over the past 30 years, its role as a contemporary art museum has attempted to establish a critical dialogue with the present history.
For all these reasons, we have worked with artists who continuously investigate textiles and tend towards installation, adding yet another artistic medium. As a result, a new hybridisation between place and work is produced with surprising results.
The exhibition tour begins in the outdoor chapel (Capilla de Afuera), where American artist Pae White’s work “The Träbäjos” has been installed. In 2007, Pae White participated in the Skulptur Projekte Münster with an intervention related to the one she created for this space.
Ulla von Brandenburg. Das Was Ist. 2020
On that occasion, she linked Westphalia with California, where she lives, through its Hispanic colonial past and the fast-food topic, which is previously referred to in Seville. The latter was also the subject of the installation she made in 2010 at MOCA in Los Angeles, formally linked to the one she designed for CAAC. The artist establishes an abstract relationship between the museum space and popular culture. Straddling the colonial past and present, Pae White’s installation also connects high and low culture, establishing a geo-cultural and geopolitical nexus in the context of a space that centuries ago was a “popular” place. This area was the only one in which the presence of people outside the monastic rule was allowed, and it was connected to nutrition since food was given to the “needy”.
The exhibition continued in the church with a large installation by Ulla von Brandenburg, a German artist based in Paris who draws on theatre, stage, and colour theory themes and traditions.
Her work “Das Was Ist” (What is) consists of a series of painted canvases with a circular opening in each. They are arranged one after the other in parallel, forming a kind of camera diaphragm, formally and conceptually linked to the place they occupy through the large rose window on the façade and, inside, through the large clock in the apse.
In this exhibition, there are three works by the American artist Sheila Hicks: two large installations and recent small-scale work. In all these works, Hicks explores colour, structure and texture, proving a great mastery of ancient textile crafts and contemporary innovations.
The work “Apprentissages de la Victoire” comprises voluminous masses of coloured coconut fibre ropes covered in hand-spun wool. It shows a textile column in which the weight of its monumental verticality contrasts the sense of fluidity derived from the organic nature of the material. In the same room, we find ‘La Sentinelle de Safran’, a pile of stuffed bales of pigmented yarn in intense shades of yellow, red and orange. With this work, Hicks unleashes a frenzy of colour nuances that alludes to traditional natural pigments and create a landscape of textures that envelop the viewer.
Belén Rodríguez, from Valladolid, is one of the Spanish artists who has used textile installations the most in her exhibitions, such as those held in Tabacalera (Madrid, 2017), in the Museo Patio Herreriano (Valladolid, 2018) or in CA2M (Móstoles, 2018). Moreover, in 2019 he held a solo exhibition at the Alarcón Criado Gallery in Seville. In the CAAC exhibition, she presents a work made especially for the Old Carthusian Refectory entitled “Nueve autopensantes”.
In this show at the CAAC, she presents a piece made specifically for the old Charterhouse’s Refectory entitled “Nueve autopensantes”. This installation is based on the “Jacob’s ladder”. In this game, small boards go up and down as if by magic, emulating the ladder that links heaven and earth and by which the angels have access to both worlds, just as Jacob dreamt according to what is mentioned in the Bible.
The Guatemalan-born and US-based artist, weaver and educator Hellen Ascoli focuses her creations and research on her native country’s textile traditions, constructing a specific language in which the boundaries between art and craft are blurred. Ascoli pays attention to Guatemalan women weavers and their craftsmanship through her creations.
The two works on display at CAAC, “A veces el cielo se abre” and “Donde el cambio es la única constante”, are based on a pre-Hispanic practice indigenous to her region. They are made with a base of fabric woven on a backstrap loom, cotton, found cloth and hand-sewn cotton. The pieces refer to a poem the artist wrote entitled “Litany to the volcano”, inspired by Guatemala as a country of volcanoes, with an unstable landscape that affects her way of seeing the world.
Paola Besana, an Italian artist who passed away last June, began weaving in 1958. After various travels and stays, especially in the United States, in 1968, she founded the Studio di Tessitura Paola Besana in Milan as a laboratory, research, production and teaching centre. In addition to her work in textile design, from the early 1960s, she developed the so-called textile structures.
She presents three pieces in this exhibition, “Ombre”, in which four rectangles, each crossed by the same broken diagonal line, produce almost 200 possible combinations, simply by inverting the thick and thin, turning the pieces upside down or inside out, from left to right and vice versa, and from the foreground to the background. In “Tre entità” and “Distrazione lombarda”, he uses the technique of double weaving, which allows the artist to move continuously from two to three dimensions. This technique not only allows to explore the three dimensions, thus underlining how the fabric is not a replica of the painting using a different material, but also shows the way from the second to the third dimension, creating an abst
Sheila Hicks. La Sentinelle de Safran. 2018