Magdalena Abakanowicz – Every Tangle of Thread & Rope

There’s been a bit of a hiatus since I list posted a write-up of a show I’ve seen, and it’s not for lack of seeing good art. But here’s getting back on that horse again, and posting some pictures and reflections a little closer to the time.

Earlier this month, I had the absolute pleasure of visiting this Magdalena Abakanowicz show at the Tate Modern in London and it blew me away! Here are my highlights …

001 Painterly Tapestries

Very painterly tapestries. The colours and scale of medieval works, yet abstract and improvised. Amazing variety of tone and texture within a limited palette – really stretching her medium. Hints of cubist painting to it too. Fascinating to see how she uses collage to plan/experiment.

‘Tapisserie 21 brune’, 1963, wool, by Magdalena Abakanowicz
Untitled, 1965 (ink and gouache on papers on paper)
002 Abstracting from Nature

From drawings, to installations, she was fascinated by organic forms, often working from them and developing new abstracted forms.

Series – “From the cycle flies”, 1994. Large scale A1, between abstraction and figuration.
Love the gestural marks, variety and weight of marks, working with eraser too.
003 Breaking the Rectangle

Exciting to see her break away from the rectangle and the traditional form of weaving and painting.

‘Diptere’, 1967, hemp sisal horsehair

Dipteres are insects with only one pair of wings – again exploring and abstracting from organic forms.

Exciting to see how many ‘moves’ she has within this one relatively monochrome piece – fibres that protrude, are pulled taut, threadbare, rugged, looped, draped, fluffy, ragged, with gravity, wrinkled, folded and straight.

004 Inhabiting Space

The climax of the show, moving between her large scale woven sculptures. The forms have such presence and mass. At times I felt like I was walking in an abstract painting.

The forms evoke feelings of softness – safety, nurture, care, becoming – transformation, possibility, emergence. They feel pregnant in some way – a moment of suspension, with gravity, yet floating..

005 Performance

From pulling ropes through the streets of Edinburgh, to staging her work in the sand dunes of Poland, her work has often taken on an element of performance.

Red Rope, 1972, Edinburgh International Festival