Polly Apfelbaum

This post is not quite stripes, not quite weaving.

I came across Polly Apfelbaum’s work while searching on stripes. Her room of stripes can be seen at http://www.artcritical.com/2014/06/02/david-cohen-on-polly-apfelbaum/ and http://cliftonbenevento.com/files/2013/04/APF_TheArtBlog_June2014.pdf. There are striped rugs on the floor and striped wallpaper on the walls. The stripes appear quite wide, creating a different visual and physical effect to those of say Jim Lambie (see 15-Apr-2014). Noreen Kress described the experience – ” the spatial boundaries of the architecture begin to disappear, blurred by the loud stripes of color. Complementary color choices paired side-by-side create visual tension—oranges buzzing against pale blues, vibrating with cool purples. In other moments of the painting, analogous colors rest next to each other, sharing a calm and gentle harmony. I reveled in the feeling of the undulating colors beginning to absorb and transform the physical boundaries around me—a feat of installation attempted by many and fully realized by few” (Kress 2014).

Lambie’s stripes made me acutely aware of every slight variation in the boundaries of the MCA gallery floor. Apfelbaum’s appear to dissolve the boundaries of the space.

However given my recent post on the interaction of weaving structures and non-textile art (see 4-Oct-2014), Apfelbaum’s recent exhibition A Handweaver’s Pattern Book, at Clifton Benevento is fascinating – see http://cliftonbenevento.com/files/2014/05/APF_artinfo_June2014.pdf. Almost any weaver reading this will recognise the reference to Marguerite Davison’s book first printed in 1944. This classic book is devoted to four shaft weaving patterns. Although the photos are monochrome and sometimes dark or blurry, and the notation method is different to the modern forms and tricky at first, the book is an absolute treasure trove.

Apfelbaum has taken inspiration from those photos and notations to create something quite different. Using a found punch-card Apfelbaum has created new patterns, drawing through the punched holes using marker pens, creating structured patterns on rayon synthetic velvet panels. Apfelbaum has referred to the works as “conceptual weavings”. There was a basic approach (a Serial Attitude?), a framework and method, but variations depending on mood, age of the marker (new or running out of ink), the thoughts of the passing moment. There are grids on the panels and the panels themselves are hung to form grids. As well as the fabric panels there are hanging beads that Apfelbaum has made, like marks that have fallen off. Altogether the works create an environment. Apfelbaum describes it as the viewer “walking in a painting” (quoted in Indrisek, 2014).

As a weaver I respond to the patterning, the sense of structure I see. There is wonderful variation in colour, and given the work is still textile there is drape and an expectation of hand. The idea of beads extending the work is a lovely piece of whimsy.

Again I am thinking of my weaving, my studies, potential paths, how to challenge and push myself…

References

Indrisek, S. (2014) Polly Apfelbaum Gets Up Off the Floor [online] Available from http://cliftonbenevento.com/files/2014/05/APF_artinfo_June2014.pdf (Accessed 2-Oct-2014)

Kress, N. (2014) Seeing stripes–a celebration of Gene Davis at Temple Contemporary [online] Available from http://cliftonbenevento.com/files/2013/04/APF_TheArtBlog_June2014.pdf (Accessed 2-Oct-2014)

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