Rijswijk Textile Biennial

Nooit alleen (Never alone), 2017, Lia de Jonghe, photo by Mique Menheere

Never alone. Heaven for one, hell for the other… To me this is my favorite work at the Rijswijk Textile Biennial (Netherlands). The color and look in the eyes, the choice of colors, the way the faces merge… Artist Lia de Jonghe (NL) is fascinated by pairs, she embroiders portraits from existing couples, or she creates one. Doing so, sometimes scars arise, like in the work shown on top. To Lia they may be seen, because no one is free of scars.

Textile portraits by Lia de Jonghe, photo Mique Menheere

To me Lia is an expert in “portraying the eye”. You probably understand what I mean when you see her work Overgang (Transition).

Overgang (transition), 2017, Lia de Jonghe, photo by Mique Menheere

In the following piece Lia integrates needle weaving in her work. Of course as an embroidery addict I’m exited about that!

Zonder titel, 2018, Lia de Jonghe, photo by Mique Menheere

Another example of beautiful needle-weaving is the work of Mark Newman (USA). He combines this technique with embroidered stitches in multiple layers. Mark “plays” with the concept of stoppages, he transforms it to something modern. He approaches the damaged textile as a kind of scars which he “heals”, just like the body can heal itself.

Mark Newport, photo by Mique Menheere

Lot’s of portraits

At the Biennial there are more portraits to see, for example the work of artist Noora Schroderus (Finland). She creates portraits by embroidering banknotes, something different, isn’t it? By doing so she makes fun of mighty men and changes fixed value in the same time.

The Bank Notes, 2016-19, Noora Schroderus, photo by Mique Menheere
The Bank Notes, Rainbow 3, 2016-19, Noora Schroderus, photo courtesy Rijswijk Museum/Noora Schroderus

Nigel Cheney (UK), textile designer, also focuses on the portrait in his work Family Portrait. It’s made of recycled uniforms and duffle bags. Doing research for this work Cheney realized that relatives of fallen soldiers, mostly don’t remember, to be able to continue with their lives. With this work he gives a face to pushed memories.

Family Portrait, Nigel Cheney, photo Nigel Cheney, courtesy by artist/Museum Rijswijk
Family Portrait, Nigel Cheney, photo Mique Menheere

David B. Smith (USA) is another artist showing an embroidered portrait, it’s calledWitness. Smith’s work relates to his inquiry into how our physical bodies are relating to the digital world in the midst of intense technological and social change. This particular portrait refers to Mark Zuckerberg during his senate hearing in 2018, complete with a mask-like grid overlay of AI emotion-analyzing software.

Witness, David B. Smith, 2018, photo Mique Menheere
Witness, detail, David B. Smith, 2018, photo Mique Menheere

Other figurative works

At the Biennial there are lot’s of figurative works to see. Like the “landscapes” of Lawrence James Bailey (1976, UK/NL), made of collected materials from his surroundings, which he photographs and combines to make new representations.

Behind the bushes, 2019, Lawrence James Bailey, photo Mique Menheere

In this detailed photo you can see some “good old fashioned embroidery”. It looks surprisingly “fresh”, combined with the bright almost neon colors.

Behind the bushes, detail, 2019, Lawrence James Bailey, photo Mique Menheere

Another figurative piece of work is from Elizabeth Fram (USA), showing a still life on textile.

Espresso and peanut butter, 2018, Elizabeth Fram, photo Mique Menheere

Kristine Fornes (1971, Norway), makes beautiful work in a quite different style. Like Flower Cry, which looks very different from varying distances. From afar it wasn’t really my cup of tea, up close I enjoyed the beautiful color palette and type of yarn very much.

Flower Cry, Kristine Fornes, 2017, photo Mique Menheere
Flower Cry, detail, 2017, Kristine Fornes, photo Mique Menheere

Another figurative piece of art is the embroidered photo from (porn) Blue Boy Magazine, from Max Colby (USA). The embroidered flowers increase the tension of what can and cannot be seen.

Untitled, Max Colby, 2017, photo Mique Menheere

Abstract works

Besides figurative works, I was happy to find some abstract works as well, like Kristine Fornes work Large grown weeping beach. It touched me due to it’s fragile appearance. At the same times the work consist of firm vintage textile, which is damaged and mended at places. This way Kristine heals the textile’s “wounds” by giving it a new life.

Large grown weeping beach, detail, 2017, Kristine Forbes, photo by Mique Menheere
Large grown weeping beach, detail, 2017, Kristine Forbes, photo by Mique Menheere

To me the work of Ana Teresa Baraboza (1981, Peru) was quite inpressive. Ana is fascinated by what nature brings and what mankind can do. Her work is mostly woven with some stitches here and there, but I’ts definitely worth showing at this embroidery blog.

Layers of the landscape, 2019, Ana Teresa Barboza, photo Mique Menheere
Layers of the landscape, detail, 2019, Ana Teresa Barboza, photo Mique Menheere

Another work that really got my attention, although also not embroidered but woven, is this carpet from Kata Unger (1961, Germany). It has something spacy about it, I felt like looking at the universe… As a fan of science fiction books and films I just hád to show you this work of art… Just love it.

Crack me, or my Brain in the Cloud,2016, Kata Unger, photo Mique Menheere
Crack me, or my Brain in the Cloud, side view, 2016, Kata Unger, photo Mique Menheere

Looking back

When I compare this Biennial with that of 2017 two years ago I was more excited about it then, it impressed me more… I remember touching work of Jennis Dutton about demented people and astonishing embroidered portraits of Ji Seon Yoon. Take a look here if you want to see: http://www.museumrijswijk.nl/pers/rijswijk-textiel-biennale-2017-2.

But taste is personal, isn’t it? So just visit this textile Biennial, it’s definitely worth it. It’s on till October 6 2019. Besides, I can’t say enough that Museum Rijswijk is a great place to be: the nice garden, the well stocked bookshop, the friendly staff and the atmospheric building.

Museum Rijswijk, photo Museum Rijswijk

More information about the artists?

Here you can find links to the websites of the artists shown above: http://lawrencejamesbailey.blogspot.com/, http://anateresabarboza.blogspot.com/, http://nigelcheney.com/, https://www.maxcolby.com/, http://www.kristinefornes.no/, https://elizabethfram.com/, http://liadejonghe.nl/, http://www.nooraschroderus.com/, http://www.thedavidsmith.com/, http://kata-unger.com/.

Here a link for more information about the Museum: http://www.museumrijswijk.nl/

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