Monday, 11 October 2010



NEWSPEAK: British Art Now
       A woman, out of camera shot, is on her knees pondering a crumpled quilt which appears to have been carelessly thrown on the floor. The squares, all the same size, are in sober  terra cottas, browns and black, mixed up with juicy lemon and olive, jade and turquoise. Aubusson tapestries and carpets have been famous since the arrival of weavers from Flanders, who took refuge there around 1580.
But work with fabrics and threads, being rated ‘craft’, has often been shunned by curators. In the 1930s tapestry made something of a comeback when artists such as Cocteau, Dufy, Dali, Braque, Calder and Picasso were invited to Aubusson to express themselves through the medium of wool. 

Now here is Rupert Norfolk taking up this tradition with a magnificent (woolly) trompe l’oeil. No wonder the woman on her knees is so preoccupied. Is she feeling cynical about this work of art – or celebrating it? What you discover close to is that some of the folds and creases are real but others are illusions, woven into to the fabric, teasing the eye. Anyone who cannot bear a ruffled tablecloth or a wrinkled sheet should not come too near. You might pull and stretch this object forever without being appeased. But open you mind to Pixelweave and you may find it jumps and stutters and flows and slows down and races away.

Looking for some more of Rupert Norfolk’s work I catch sight of something and think - oh no, not a bit of dry limestone wall across the gallery floor. The Tate gave us bricks in stately rows and lines years ago, and crocks appeared across Tate Modern Turbine Hall more recently. What’s new? Come closer and here is a remarkable thing : Wall 2006.  You’ve seen stones as nature in the raw, and you seen stones which have been carved and coaxed into delicious shapes to lock together, making a temple or an arch or a god. But here are 125 limestone rocks which are neither: one side appears before us with its millions-of-years-old unique hollows and protrusions and imperfections - but the other side is a symmetrical, meticulous copy of the first side, hand carved and making the stone  ‘one flesh’, like a Siamese twin. Norfolk’s artifice - discreet, understated – is another gentle reminder of how what we perceive to be reality is culturally generated. 

1 comment:

  1. Aubusson factory, offering hundreds of aubusson rugs, tapestries and sofa covers.