Tezuka Aiko: Fragile Surface – Cat’s Cradle

2009.7.16 – 9.9
Kenji Taki Gallery (Tokyo)

by Matsuura Naomi

Fragile Surface (body 2) 2009
Stitching with thread pulled out from fabric, embroidery frame, cloth
80.5 x 181 cm

At the Stitch by Stitch group exhibition currently on at the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Museum, Tezuka Aiko marked the start of the show to powerful effect in her massive installation Thin Membrane / Pictures Come Down. In her solo show of the same title – a first outing at the Tokyo space of the gallery with which she deals – the artist offers new works of disassembled textile, and pieces of embroidery on translucent white fabric.

Tezuka takes what we unthinkingly refer to as ‘textiles’ and ‘embroidery’ and reinterprets them, her key concept that of pictures. She sees paintings as ‘that in which only the surface is visible, despite being multilayered creations encompassing a generative process (both in terms of meaning, and materially)’, and by identifying possibilities in the composition of the likes of woven cloth and embroidery – similar to paintings in this respect – and laying bare their construction, she questions our notions of painting.

The thickness of fabric, and its intricate patterns and subtle gradations, also evoke images of oil painting. In her four pieces titled Fragile Surface, Tezuka drapes innumerable threads from lengths of fabric set in frames, and hangs embroidery hoops from the threads. Picking out just one color of thread from the many making up the cloth, she uses it to stitch on the white fabric clamped in the hoops. All the pulled threads are used in the embroidery, meaning that each makes up only a short length of stitching. Completing a few stitches then threading the needle with another thread and sewing a little more, taking care not to tangle the threads, must be a sensation akin to playing cat’s cradle. Stitched in the hoops are the patterns of the sections where threads have been extracted. If these can be viewed as ‘pictures’, they are indeed ‘pictures come down’. Things fallen from their rightful place force us to feel the fragility of surfaces.

Colorful fabric with red weft and black warp threads and a paisley design picked out in gold adds color to the floor by the wall. The piece is thinner than the textiles used extensively by the artist to date, and has a different weave, indicating a widening in her choice of materials. In Fragile Surface (underground) most of the warp threads have been pulled out, and a portion used to embroider a ‘picture’ rendered by the artist.

Due to Tezuka’s choice of materials and expressive techniques, no doubt occasionally the meaning in her works is overlooked, leaving them viewed instead as craft. Nevertheless prepared to take that risk, she adopts a straightforward approach to the materials she has chosen. The creative practice she conceives and executes so earnestly is worthy of respect.

Fragile Surface (underground) 2009
Stitching with thread pulled out from fabric, embroidery frame, cloth
220 x 307 x h.190 cm (installed)

ART iT Exhibition Snapshots: 1st Tokorozawa Biennial of Contemporary Art

ART iT Exhibition Picks: 1st Tokorozawa Biennial of Contemporary Art

ART iT Exhibition Picks: Stitch by Stitch

Copyrighted Image