Z krosna do Krosna

Catalogue 3rd International Artistic Linen Cloth Biennial 2004


Publication year: 2004
ISBN: 83-89921-00-6
Number of pages: 108
Size: 210 x 295 mm
Catalogue Cover: carboard, laminated
Cover design by: Mirosław Szudy
Prize: 30 PLN
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The introduction to the catalogue

In the Kingdom of Linen Tapestry
The works sent by the tapestry artists for the third edition of the International Biennial Exhibition of Linen Tapestry „Z krosna do Krosna”  surprise with their various techniques, styles and means of expression. They raise admiration for the formal inventiveness, mastery of skills and techniques and untamed imagination of their originators who can conjure up the real riches of shapes, forms and colours from such a modest and simple material. The exhibition shows pictures, drawings, sculptures, installations, collages and pseudo-objects which are woven, sewn, glued, painted, wound, knitted, embroidered, formed and plaited. Almost all ways and forms of existence of flax were used for artistic purposes: from flax pulp through yarn on different levels of processing, threads and spools to a variety of fabrics which sometimes successfully imitate fabrics of quality.

For more than thirty years the fashion for linen has recurred regularly which is now supported by environmental ideas. And there is no other artistic material more environmentally friendly and close to nature than plant yarn is. So no wonder that the world of nature in its broadest meaning: the elements of earth, sky, water, fire and air, the beauty of some sceneries, the lavish abundance of organic and inorganic natural phenomena are ranked first among sources of inspiration. It is the mainstream of the display, although the tapestry artists, according to the spirit of time, avoid literalness. More frequently they get inspired and transform nature rather than render it accurately. The point is to create some “natural” climate using e.g. subdued colours of linen yarn: various shades of eyes-friendly beiges, whites and browns and the simplicity of technique (usually a very sophisticated one).

Of course the exhibition shows also the works with more realistic motifs of scenery, animals and plants. There appears even a stylized blue flax flower. The artists are inspired by both regularity and symmetry of forms discernible in the natural creatures and equally often encountered irregularity and chaos which frequently conceal more difficult patterns of the order of the universe, shown in the works of art.

Paradoxically, in specific realizations, the ecological stylistics is tangled and merged with abstraction both in its organic stream and in its extremely „artificial” and speculative directions: geometrism, art of sign, and op-art. This is the second important and large stream of the biennial which permanently inspires tapestry artists to the search for new techniques and skills. Tender finesse and dramatic contrasts of merging layers and streaks of colours, compositional order or – just opposite – some eccentric patterns of forms, shapes, weaves and tangles and texture effects, all are only a few of the variety of proposals and ideas of the participants of the contest.

Particularly in this edition of the biennial I interested myself in the cultural facet of the event, though it is not extraordinarily abundant in the number of works presented. It includes the works which represent (expose), in different ways, the figure of man and humanistic traditions. Otherwise, it is not easy to separate totally the cultural works of art from the ecological or techniques quests. They meet one another on the common level of the utilitarian character of tapestry which has accompanied mankind since the beginning of history, fulfilling different functions, the traces of which can be found in numerous myths, legends, folk tales and fairy tales where a motif of tapestry or fabric appears: from the Deianira’s robe, vernicle (St. Veronica’s wrap (shroud), through kimonos, chasubles, talliths, peasant’s robes to the “emperor’s new robes” in an Andersen’s fairy tale and a cotton T-shirt with a print of Forest Gump’s invention.

In the cultural stream we may distinguish the works based on fairy tale motifs, those inspired by children art and the works of primitive artists. There is a clear folk stream (especially in the works of the originators from Scandinavia, Ukraine and Poland), showing references to ritual symbolism and national cultural traditions (the works of Margaret Catherine Perivolitis Chryssovergis, a Greek artist). You cannot fail to take notice of some evocations to popular literary and fabulous motifs, some of them pronounced as in the case of iconographic allusions to The Lord of the Rings and to the books about Harry Potter in the figurative installations of Lejkina and some more allusive, as in the work of Alicja Lampa (also owing to an interesting photographic arrangement in the catalogue). The artist refers to a well-known fairy tale by the Grimm brothers about a princess weaving shirts of nettle for her brothers turned into swans.

The memory of the ages-long utilitarian tradition evinces itself in decorative dominants of many abstractive works, especially in those which paraphrase traditional decorative patterns. They may be used without much correction in applied art designs. The tendency which seems to increase is introducing inscriptions, sometimes quite elaborate, within tapestries. One of the artists (Krystyna Szluińska-Sadaj) introduced a poetical manifesto of tapestry art. To conclude this necessarily short and superficial introduction into the royal abundance of linen tapestry exhibited on the 3rd International Biennial of Linen Tapestry „Z krosna do Krosna”’ 2004 I would like to quote the manifesto:

Although weaving
is a work of solitude,
I do not feel alone,
because there are
those magnificent moments.
Someone else also puts the warp
or interweaves the weft.
Creative sprites
merge the threads.
The woven image
turns alive.
And our hands
at the time of inspiration.

Magdalena Rabizo-Birek