‘Figurativism; from Cobra to Studio Job’ presents fabrics and other pieces by important (textile) designers and artists from 1950 to now. Featured designs are by Corneille, Frits Wichard, M.C. Escher, Jeroen Vinken, Kiki van Eijk, JongeriusLab, Jaime Hayon and Studio Job, among others. The focus is on the end result as well as on various working methods including drawing, screen-printing and digital sketching. Animal and floral patterns are a predominant theme, with specific colour, size and motif choices illustrating the individual style of the designer. Many pieces portray a large helping of humour and ‘joie de vivre’, while others exude a certain tranquillity or darker undertone.
Twentieth-century Western painting reveals alternate periods of abstraction and figurativism. A similar development is apparent in textile design. When translated to textiles however, classic painting genres such as portraits, landscapes and the still life receive a lighter treatment. The depiction of motifs such as the human figure, flora and fauna not only characterise the designer, they also reflect the style of a particular era.
Between 1950 and 1975, companies such as De Ploeg, Texoprint and Kendix commission many fabrics. Although De Ploeg and Kendix also produce fabrics with austere geometric patterns, the figurative motifs prove highly popular with a wider audience. Frits Wichard and Frans Dijkmeijer create De Ploeg fabrics with playful animal and floral patterns that make their way into many post-war interiors. From 1976, De Ploeg launches the cotton ‘Multifesta’ series by Dijkmeijer. The accompanying advertising campaign stresses how versatile this fabric is, suitable for everything from dresses, to bed linen and curtains.
From 1958 to 1999, Texoprint in Boekelo frequently commissions (primarily) Dutch artists for the ‘Season’s Greetings’ corporate gift series. Various artists from the Cobra movement supply colourful designs for screen-printed scarves. For artists such as Appel, Lucebert and Wolvekamp, this commission represents a rare foray into textile design. For Corneille, this was more common. His ‘Les oiseaux’ (‘The birds’) scarf is a natural extension of his passion for painting: “My movements on canvas always become birds; a bird is the perfect reflection of the movement.” Two fine rugs with bird motifs are included in the exhibition.
Known for its exclusive curtain fabrics, from 1958 onwards, Waalre-based company Kendix adopts a whole new approach. The company hires graduates straight from art school and seeks out international designers. The aim is to create fabrics with ‘a signature style’. The exhibition displays brightly coloured sketches and fabrics from the 1970s inspired by pop art. These are by Yvonne van Uden − one of the first designers appointed by Kendix.
With the decline of the textile industry and a desire to retain more artistic freedom, the 1980s sees many designers choose to produce their own designs. The playful symbols in fabric by Cubic3 Design, the large floral rugs by Maarten Vrolijk and the classically inspired designs by Ravage portray a number of notable postmodern influences. Gerwin van Vulpen and Ton Hoogerwerf, the two designers behind Cubic3 Design have a background in graphic design. Their expressive brushstrokes and preference for clear symbols are apparent in fabrics such as their ‘Light, Water, Earth and Fire’ series. Fabrics by Maarten Vrolijk and Ravage also demonstrate a strong illustrative skill.
As ‘Dutch Design’ gains international acclaim from the late 1990s, designers experiment with the new design possibilities enabled by computers. However, hand-drawn sketches are not abandoned. Kiki van Eijk’s designs, such as her ‘Domestic Jewels’ chaise longue (2007-2008) display a poetic touch, and collages provide a basis for her figurative work. The supple hand of Spanish designer Jaime Hayon, inspired by street culture, comics and the wondrous world of the circus, retains a strong presence in his woven wall hangings and objects. An incredible festive spirit bursts forth from his surreal ‘Birds’ (2013) wall hanging – part of the ‘FAUNA by Hayon’ series. In addition to the wall hanging, his two ‘Que pasa guey?’ (2011) masks inspired by Mexican wrestling costumes are made in the TextielLab.
In his ‘Mazzo’ series (2007-2010) artist and textile designer Jeroen Vinken engages in an interesting experiment. Starting with his own digital photos of flowers, he proceeds to stretch, distort and fade these to create seven different designs. They are then woven on a computerised jacquard loom using ingenious colour applications and an extremely long rapport. JongeriusLab adopts a different approach to variations on a single motif. Her renowned porcelain ‘Red White Vase’ for Royal Tichelaar Makkum is endlessly repeated in the ‘Vases’ (2014) curtain fabric for American firm Maharam.
And finally, Studio Job − modern masters in recycling motifs − transforms images from culture, flora and fauna into busy, iconic textile scenes. Sketches on a computer form the basis. An example is the ‘Underworld’ rug (2013), where human limbs and fish with monstrous mouths engage in an odd dance − a 21st-century nod to Jheronimus Bosch’s ‘Garden of Earthly Delights’.
Images are available from www.textielmuseum.nl/nl/pagina/pers
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