Koen Taselaar makes quirky drawings, ceramics and fascinating tapestries. These woven narratives, clearly contemporary, also bring in to mind the history of tapestry art. Taselaar is known for being an avid draughtsman who intertwines letters, images and patterns into dizzyingly packed drawings. How did he go from these drawings to the tapestries?
He likes to mix manual and digital techniques to renew his work. In 2018 he was asked by the Textile Museum in Tilburg to contribute to the exhibition ‘Bauhaus & Modern Textiles in the Netherlands’.
Connected with this museum is an experimental workshop, the TextielLab, where artists, with the help of technicians, can realise their designs in textiles.
Taselaar explored the TextielLab’s extensive technical possibilities to opt for a computer-controlled Jacquard loom. He then immersed himself in learning to design for and weave with such an intricate machine, which required him to drastically adapt his usual playful process of working. However, because he feels perfectly at home at the interface of art and design, this commission suited him.
By the time the almost nine-metre-long Bauhaus tapestry rolled off the loom, he had acquired a taste for it. Now, he also wanted to make tapestries that had a direct link with his other work; an intention that has so far yielded sixteen different tapestries. Four new tapestries are on display in Rollable Ramblings at Cokkie Snoei.
HOW TO HAVE YOUR PIECHART AND EAT IT TOO 2021, 270 cm x 170 cm
This enclosed garden most resembles a millefleur tapestry from the Middle Ages, yet it is a modern society with a life-size dilemma. For a mysterious object has recently surfaced here and now everyone is twittering, chattering, and clattering away.
In the middle of the garden, on the top floor of the hexagonal building, three imaginary birds are discussing. Their ‘subject’, a multicoloured cake topped with burning candles, is guarded by three other imaginary birds on the bottom floor. But is this a real cake? The title speaks of a pie chart, perhaps a statistical representation of the discord amongst birds.
THE TIPLESS ICEBERG 2021, 260 cm x 165 cm
An iceberg like a multifaceted crystal has sunk into the water. It now rests on the seabed amongst brightly coloured aquatic plants and sea creatures. Different species of fish swim around, alongside sea snakes and imaginary starfish.
It is a beautiful and peaceful world where the iceberg has gone into hiding, and for good reason. Here no one can argue that he is merely the tip of an iceberg; implying that underneath that tip jutting out of the water there is still much hidden danger and misery, as with a real iceberg. There you must always be on your guard, lest you crash into the invisible chuck of ice. Frozen in the weave of this tapestry, the large ice crystal will retain its facets and refined colours while continuing to refer to Utopia, where all is good in the land of imagination.
ALL NEEDLES NO HAY 2021, 260 cm x 165 cm
This composition of slightly irregular, geometric shapes is reminiscent of Wassily Kandinsky’s early abstract works. Therein the painter used elements that are almost recognisable to guide viewers into the painting, and applied rhythms of form and colour to suggest movements and sounds. Something similar is also happening in this tapestry.
Vicious stakes sprouting a multitude of spines grow across the surface of this tapestry. They pierce each other and form an irregular grid, in which coloured spheres seem to dance up and down. Sometimes they balance on the spines, but they are also regularly skewered. If the spines come too close, the spheres can deploy their defence mechanisms. They will then fuse into amoebas or open as flower buds to enclose the spines.
THE NEVER-ENDING QUESTION OF WHAT CAME BEFORE THE CATHOUSE OR THE ARCHITECT 2021, 240 cm x 360 cm
On the huge, yellow-green paved square you can sniff out wonderful scents and shelter in post-modern cat houses. There are stairs to run up and down, and high lookout posts to inspect the grounds. The avant-garde cat will climb Brancusi’s ‘Endless Column’ and the classic cat will opt for a fluted column.
The work of the architect Aldo Rossi was the inspiration for this elongated yellow brick town, but it was the house cat, called Mackerel, that gave rise to this sunny world in the shape of a tapestry.
In addition to the tapestries, we are also treated to a number of drawings in the Rollable Ramblings exhibition, which served as a starting point for Taselaar’s wall hangings.
Thanks to Katalin Herzog for the text excerpts from the upcoming book Rollable Ramblings