The female artists and designers: Beppe Kessler, Mae Engelgeer, Joana Schneider, Kiki van Eijk and Lola van Praag share a fascination for textiles in all kinds of colors, materials and shapes. With the exhibition entitled Soft! Pien Rademakers manages to weave a layered red thread and thus to respond to the zeitgeist in which there is a great need for tactility.
The well-known jewelry designer and artist Beppe Kessler does not choose; she is an artist ànd a designer. She has a rich knowledge of materials that she not only knows how to combine endlessly, she also stretches the possibilities to the ultimate. Whether it is wood, stone, paint, linen, cork, concrete or aluminum, Kessler uses recycled materials and self-invented techniques to create tactile, sensory-stimulating works with a strong expressive power. She meticulously stretches tricot over blocks of wood, which she molds into the desired shape and calls it ‘Ingesnoerd’ (‘Constricted’). The work carries an exciting contradiction: it appears hard as stone and soft as a transparent fabric.
The self-proclaimed materials geek also makes 'crazy stacking objects’ out of leftover materials. For the series 'Whispering Pieces' Kessler seems to have mastered the role of circus director perfectly: she stacks materials in different shapes on top of each other like balancing artists. Using lime wood, concrete, cedar, cork and aluminum combined with acrylic paint and gold leaf, she creates quirky colorful personalities.
'I say the same thing but each time I wrap it up differently. My works take on different guises," says Kessler. 'What the viewer exactly sees remains a fascinating mystery.
Ishoku Tatami Works
Mae Engelgeer is also an artist and designer who operates at the intersection of both disciplines. She mostly works for international clients, but for Rademakers Gallery she makes free work. The three-dimensional spatial works with aesthetic and clear compositions consists of a graphic linear line pattern combined with a particularly balanced use of color. It is characteristic of Mae Engelgeer's handwriting.
The Tatami mats of woven igusa straw used as floor coverings that are manufactured in Japan in traditional style, were the inspiration for her decorative ‘Ishoku Tatami Works’. Engelgeer collaborated with Kyoto-based Tatami maker Mitsuru Yokoyama on a series of machine-woven but handcrafted playful and graphic works through which she interweaves tradition with the contemporary.
Japan is also a source of inspiration for the diptych. In the TextielLab of the Textielmuseum, where she also produced ‘Bold Weave’, she intuitively composed with samples of previous textile developments. It shows rib structures in a graphic translation of the rusted corrugated iron walls she photographs in Japan.
Joana Schneider pinpoints the current era in which artists are turning their gaze more outside the city, to the countryside, in search of contact with nature and raw, natural materials as a counterpart to plastics. They bridge the gap between nature and the age of technology by creating tactile, handmade works as a counterpart to our cold computer screens.
Schneider has always combined traditional techniques of Dutch craftsmen and materials such as discarded fishing ropes and yarns made from recycled PET bottles, and makes us think about phenomena such as craftmanship that is hardly valued in our contemporary (digital) world, as well as typical male professions such as fisherman and thatcher. As a tribute, the artist and material researcher created 'Die Rietdekkerin' of which a new work in the series will be shown during Soft! The portrait of a female thatcher looks a bit like a Japanese painting and has a new color scheme, but is made with the same technique on a self-developed machine. In doing so, Schneider wraps shiny yarns around fishing ropes and around bunches of reeds. Wrapping multiple colors around a single rope creates a flowing color gradient, as if she were painting with yarn, but the handcrafted work simultaneously has a glitchy digital feel; the individual colors evoke the association with pixels.
Next to that she created new organic forms with the fishing rope: small, refined objects that look like futuristic organisms.
Textile artist and fashion designer Lola van Praag uses yet other techniques such as appliqué, embroidery, digital printing, screen printing and industrial knitting techniques to create complex textile works that reflect her love of nature. In Sweden, where she took a master's degree in Textile Design, she learned to work with industrial knitting machines. It resulted in the series titled "It's Not a Flower" in which she explored the theme of female sexuality and its representations in different media. She also used the symbolism of the flower in different art forms - from Renaissance paintings to modern photography.
For the wall objects, the textile artist looked closer to home: the Bollenstreek. Van Praag incorporates the Dutch history of the tulip in a floral work made on the knitting machine of a female bulb peeler in the field, but also of a vase with tulips whose crack symbolizes the uncertain times we live in. Her monumental works are an outgrowth of experiments on the Textile Museum's industrial knitting machine where she, like Mae Engelgeer, combines the manual with the mechanical.