‘Fabric Works’ brings together a selection of artworks by a cross generational group of artists from the gallery’s program who have used textiles to push the limits of their respective mediums. Contemporary works by Phyllida Barlow, Frank Bowling and Pipilotti Rist are displayed alongside modern masters, including Louise Bourgeois, Alina Szapocznikow, Piero Manzoni and Fausto Melotti. The painterly works on view are sewn, patched and haptic, eliciting fundamental questions about the cross-fertilization of sculpture and painting. Sculptural pieces display unconventional elements of pliability, familiarity and intimacy, challenging associations about the materiality of sculpture.
Exploring emotions, psychological states and memories, the work of Pipilotti Rist and Louise Bourgeois exists in a space between the visual and the sensual. Rist’s sculptural installation ‘Yayoi, die erleuchtete Enkelin (dunkelblau pink) (Familie Elektrobranche)’ (2022) utilizes a swimsuit lit-up from within like a hanging lamp. Focusing attention on the torso, with the fabric becoming a translucent skin, the form rounds off into the hips—an area which is believed to be a storage vessel for emotions, from passion to vexation. Rist gives this heavy area of the body a lightness by making it hollow and illuminated. Speaking on her affinity for using recycled objects, the artist says, ‘The material has stories in it already, lives from other uses, but the tradition also gives a sense of caring, paying attention, thinking twice.’
For almost 60 years, British artist Phyllida Barlow took inspiration from her surroundings to create imposing installations that can be at once menacing and playful. She created large-scale yet anti-monumental sculptures from inexpensive, low-grade materials such as cardboard, fabric, plywood, polystyrene, scrim, plaster and cement. These constructions were often painted in industrial or vibrant colors, the seams of their construction left at times visible, revealing the means of their making.
For over six decades, Frank Bowling has relentlessly pursued a practice which boldly expands the possibilities and properties of paint. Ambitious in scale and scope, his dynamic engagement with the materiality of his chosen medium, and its evolution in the broad sweep of art history, has resulted in paintings of unparalleled originality and power. Bowling has been hailed as one of the foremost British artists of his generation. Born in British Guiana (now Guyana) in 1934, he arrived in London in 1953, graduating from the Royal College of Art with the silver medal for painting in 1962. By the early 1960s, he was recognized as an assured force in London’s art scene. During this period, his highly individual language of painting, which emerged from expressionistic figuration and pop art, encompassed autobiographical elements and the artist’s socio-political concerns.
Pipilotti Rist, a pioneer of spatial video art, was born 1962 in Grabs in the Swiss Rhine Valley on the Austrian Border and has been a central figure within the international art scene since the mid-1980s.
Born in France in 1911, and working in America from 1938 until her death in 2010, Louise Bourgeois is recognized as one of the most important and influential artists of the 20th Century. For over seven decades, Bourgeois’s creative process was fueled by an introspective reality, often rooted in cathartic re-visitations of early childhood trauma and frank examinations of female sexuality. Articulated by recurrent motifs (including body parts, houses and spiders), personal symbolism and psychological release, the conceptual and stylistic complexity of Bourgeois’s oeuvre—employing a variety of genres, media and materials—plays upon the powers of association, memory, fantasy, and fear.
The renowned Italian artist Piero Manzoni emerged as a powerful voice for the avant-garde in the 1950s, debuting as an artist at the ‘4a Fiera mercato: Mostra d’arte contemporanea’ in 1956. A self-taught painter, his work heavily featured anthropomorphic silhouettes and the impressions of objects. He began making his ‘white paintings’—later named ‘Achromes’—in 1957, at first with rough gesso and then with kaolin, as well as with creased canvases or surfaces divided into squares.
Italian sculptor, painter and poet, Fausto Melotti is considered a pioneer of Italian art and is acknowledged for his unique contribution to the development of mid-century European Modernism. Coming of age in prewar Milan, and living through the horrors of the Second World War, Melotti metabolized wartime devastation in his work by returning to Renaissance principles of harmony, order, geometry, and musical structure, which he integrated into a highly personal yet universally accessible artistic language that expresses the full range of emotional experiences in modern human existence.