Open: Tue-Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 11am-5pm

41 Dover Street, W1S 4NS, London, United Kingdom
Open: Tue-Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 11am-5pm


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Antigone: Women in Fibre Art

Richard Saltoun, London

Tue 31 Jan 2023 to Fri 24 Mar 2023

41 Dover Street, W1S 4NS Antigone: Women in Fibre Art

Tue-Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 11am-5pm

Richard Saltoun Gallery inaugurates the 2023 exhibition programme with Antigone: Women in Fibre Art, a group show celebrating the rich Eastern European textile art tradition. Focusing on gallery artists Jagoda Buić – who recently passed away - and Barbara Levittoux-Świderska, the exhibition situates their pivotal fibre sculptures alongside rare works by two other pioneers, Magdalena Abakanowicz and Ewa Pachucka, and new work by a younger generation, Anna Perach and Egle Jauncems.


Artworks

Magdalena Abakanowicz, Bordeaux, 1969

Sisal and horsehair

1070 × 1250 mm

Signed and dated verso

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Jagoda Buić, White Reflections, 1970 - 75

Wool and metallic thread

2240 × 1630 × 100 mm

Woven signature to lower left ‘J Buić’

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Jagoda Buić, Antigone, 1977

Wool

800 × 1300 mm

Signed, dated and titled on a label on the back

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Jagoda Buić, Untitled, 1976

Felt tip on paper

645 × 995 mm

Signed and dated 1976

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Jagoda Buić, Dubrovnik, 1973

Wool

640 × 800 mm

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Egle Jauncems, The Paler King II, 2019

Oil on linen and canvas, metal rod and hooks

1000 × 1700 mm

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Egle Jauncems, The Paler King I, 2019

Oil on linen and canvas, metal rod and hooks

1000 × 1700 mm

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Egle Jauncems, Untitled, 2021

Acrylic on paper

580 × 590 mm

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Egle Jauncems, Untitled, 2021

Acrylic on paper

675 × 550 mm

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Egle Jauncems, Untitled 8, 2021

Oil on Linen

640 × 750 mm

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Barbara Levittoux-Świderska, Roman arches, 2011

Fabric, thread collage

1000 × 1000 mm

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Barbara Levittoux-Świderska, Cuboid [Prostopadłościan], 1980 c.

Glue, synthetic fabric, plastic foil

2650 × 950 × 950 mm

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Barbara Levittoux-Świderska, Fire [Pożar], 1974

Sisal, rope, metal

4000 × 2500Fire [Pożar] mm

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Anna Perach, Self Decapitation, 2022

Watercolour and marker on paper

300 × 230 mm

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Anna Perach, Face, 2022

Tufted yarn, wooden stand

Head with arm: 34 x 38 x 34 cm Head only: 34 x 22 x 3 cm

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Anna Perach, Hand, 2022

Tufted yarn, wooden stand

Hand with arm: 39 x 40 x 12 cm Hand only: 37 x 23 x 1.5 cm

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Anna Perach, Expansion X, 2023

Axminster yarn, glass and English Oak wood

1200 × 2150 × 1050 mm

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Installation Views

Installation image for Antigone: Women in Fibre Art, at Richard Saltoun Installation image for Antigone: Women in Fibre Art, at Richard Saltoun Installation image for Antigone: Women in Fibre Art, at Richard Saltoun Installation image for Antigone: Women in Fibre Art, at Richard Saltoun Installation image for Antigone: Women in Fibre Art, at Richard Saltoun Installation image for Antigone: Women in Fibre Art, at Richard Saltoun Installation image for Antigone: Women in Fibre Art, at Richard Saltoun

The exhibition title honours Buić - who recently passed away - referencing her work named after the heroine of Sofocle’s greek tragedy, who confronted archaic laws in the name of a modern moral sentiment. Like Antigone, Abakanowicz, Buić, Levittoux-Świderska, and Pachucka opposed the traditional view of textiles as specifically feminine, decorative, and low in the artistic hierarchy, elevating them to fine art. In the 1960s and 1970s, they revolutionised the millennia-old tapestry tradition to a point that a new term was coined to describe it: fibre art. Their weaved, knotted, plaited, coiled, and even braided creations forsake flatness and embraced tridimensionality, expanding freely in the space. The feminist movements of the time contributed greatly to the rise of fibre art on the international scene. Indeed, many of the most prominent fiber artists are women.

Magdalena Abakanovicz (1930–2017) and Barbara Levittoux-Świderska (1933–2019) were the most prominent members of the Polish Textile School, a post-war generation of artists who incorporated locally sourced materials in their practice while also responding to repressive ideology of the country’s socialist regime. Abakanovicz’s earliest works were monumental hanging textiles, which she named “Abakans”, and functioned as both objects and spaces. Quite different and less dense, Levittoux-Świderska’s large-scale, cascading fibre installations used natural fibres woven or glued with synthetic materials such as wire, plastic or industrial scraps.

Together with Abakanowicz and Levittoux-Świderska, Croatian artist Jagoda Buić (1930–2022) was credited with pioneering innovative textile forms in contemporary arts. Known for her vast installations made out of textile cords, hemp and wool, and experiments with unusual surface textures, Buić was also a successful costume and set designer for opera, ballet, theatre and film productions. By dispensing with the traditional loom, she gave her works - which she called ‘tapestry situations’ - a new and powerful corporeality, boldly venturing into space and creating large-scale environments. Notably, Buić featured in MoMA’s pivotal 1969 exhibition “Wall Hangings” alongside 27 other independent weavers who adopted off-loom techniques and operated in the world of art, including Abakanowicz and another member of the Polish School: Ewa Pachucka. Pachucka (1936–2020) crocheted distinctive three-dimensional forms made of hemp cords, jute, and sisal with openwork decorations. Some resembled vertical architectures, while others - known as the “Clothing” series - resembled garments with human forms and bodily character, reminiscent of artificial skins.

The connection with the human body returns in the work of Anna Perach (b.1985), who creates colourful wearable sculptures - using a technique called tufting - and performances that examine the dynamic between personal and cultural stories. Perach is particularly interested in how our private narratives are deeply rooted in ancient folklore and storytelling. Her work interweaves female archetypes into sculptural hybrids in order to examine ideas of identity, gender, and craft. Equally colourful, the wall-hung textile assemblages of Lithuanian artist Egle Jauncems (b.1984) express her ongoing investigations into male power, the history of painting, and the relationship between truth and appearance. The principal aspects of Egle Jauncems’ practice develop through a continuous search for the parallels between the rational and irrational, contemporary and primitive, and the relevant and irrelevant. The starting point of her visual analysis often revolves around found imagery, pieces of text and overheard conversations. Later, she transforms these fragments – through the act of painting, drawing and stitching – into objects, or even beings, of pathos and irony.

Courtesy of Richard Saltoun Gallery, London and Rome

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