Story of Woolgathering

by Kustaa Saksi

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POST : March 1,2016


The exhibition title, Woolgathering, absent-mindedness, refers to daydreaming in a short-term detachment from one’s immediate surroundings, during which a person’s contact with reality is blurred and partially substituted by a visionary fantasy, thoughts, hopes or ambitions, imagined as coming to pass, and experienced while awake. In our society, negative aspects of daydreaming were stressed after human work became dictated by the motion of the tool. As craft production was largely replaced by assembly line that did not allow for any creativity, no place was left for positive aspects of daydreaming. It not only became associated with laziness, but also with danger. For Saksi, daydreaming works as a tool to escape from reality and let imagination take over. Focused interest in dreams and borderlands of sleep and wakefulness, Saksi’s work pulls inspiration from visual delusions, dreams, visions, illusions one’s brain is capable of generating. His surreal works are like abstract landscapes that also refer to the tradition of optical art. Saksi’s distinctive landscapes of organic shapes combined with vivid imagery and colours create new radiant, psychedelic worlds. These paradoxical and playful themes create powerful, multi-sensory works.

Jacquard technique is named after the French inventor, Joseph Marie Jacquard (1752–1834), who designed the jacquard loom. With Jacquard’s automatic loom, it was possible to weave complex mechanically patterned silk fabrics. The technology was revolutionary in the textile manufacturing industry around the world. Modern technology has allowed Jacquard machine capacity to increase significantly, and single end warp control can extend to more than 10,000 warp ends. For Woolgathering, Saksi has produced the tapestries at TextielMuseum in Tilburg, the area famous for its heritage in tapestry weaving for centuries.

“Weaving patterns definitely has its limitations as compared to printing, but it opens up a completely new world of possibilities, especially in detailing. In my artworks, I’m using the Jacquard weaving technique for its magnificent control over detailing and color and material combinations. I’m especially keen on using natural fibers like mohair, alpaca wool, cotton, and linen, and contrasting them with synthetic, high-tech materials such as glow-in-the-dark phosphoric and metallic acrylic threads, and rubber. I’m producing my designs and artworks in small editions to keep them exclusive and at the highest-possible quality.”

“My shapes and characters tend to have a science-meets-imagination feeling, with a lot of texture and dimension. I still think back to my childhood skiing holidays in the snowy woods by the frozen sea, and I remember the shapes and characters your imagination molds out of the trees, rocks, and islands covered with snow and ice, and the flashes of northern lights in the sky. There was (and still is) something magical and mystical in that Finnish landscape. I know it’s a cliché for a Finn to say, “I’m inspired by our nature,” but that’s a fact. Going into the forest, and smelling it, still means a lot to me, and I miss it sometimes in the urban environment where I live now”, Saksi says.

Kustaa Saksi is a Finnish contemporary artist and designer (b. 1975) specialising in graphic storytelling through pattern design, textile art and installation. He lives and works in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. In addition to his artistic production, he is known as an awarded graphic designer in Finland and abroad. Ideas of nature seen from the abstracted edge of perception pervade all of Saksi’s work. He builds fantastical worlds of playful, paradoxical and troubling yet inviting shapes and environments pulled out of the ordinary. Combining organic qualities with uniquely detailed textures with rich colour palettes and experimental material use, Saksi is interested in developing contemporary spaces, objects and atmospheres. Saksi’s artworks have been exhibited at galleries and museums in New York, Paris, London, Amsterdam, Helsinki, Singapore, Berlin, Madrid, Milan and Tokyo. Saksi has produced commissioned artworks for companies such as Nike, Issey Miyake, Levi’s, Salvatore Ferragamo, Lacoste, LVMH and Marimekko.