Friday, February 07, 2014

the aesthetic of distress

Chiyoko Tanaka,  Brown #602 grinded hand woven fabric 1989
Chiyoko Tanaka from Japan weaves cloth and then wrecks it.   Her process leaves tiny holes in the surface of her work, allowing light to shine through.  
Chiyoko Tanaka, Blue RF #601  grinded fabric rubbed with white stone 1989
The weaving process is one of accumulation.  Weft threads repeatedly go over and under the warp threads for a lengthy period of time.  Thus woven cloth is about growth and about space and the warp threads (the time it took) eventually become invisible.  Chiyoko then makes time visible again when she places her finished beautiful linen, silk or ramie cloth on the ground and rubs it with a brick or a stone. She calls this body of work "Grinded Fabric".

"For me the act of weaving, as the weft threads accumulate one by one, is a representation of time passing away..... Placing the fabric on the ground, I trace out the ground texture and grind out the surface of the fabric.  .. The true past tense of the verb to grind, "ground" , also implies the earth, which is used to embed, erode and emboss its own surface into my work."  Chiyoko Tanaka 
Chiyoko Tanaka, mud dyed cloth, poppy seed oil  Permeated fabric 1983
Sometimes, this artist covers her cloth with mud and occasionally pours oil onto it. Again, the time it takes for mud and oil to be absorbed into the cloth, is very important to her process.  She uses the term "permeated".

"I enjoy the sense of addition from a new dimension: on one plane you already have the criss-crossing of the fibres, and now, from above, a new element gently descends and starts spreading outwards from its centre.  For me, this is a symbol of gravity: energy toward the centre of the earth."  Chiyoko Tanaka

All images and quotations here are from Art Textiles of the World Japan
There's a new post about Chiyoko Tanaka on modernist aesthetic. 

I'm still thinking about weaving and the connections that cloth has to human mortality.


  1. I commented on your other blog for talking about this weaver. I am very glad to have been introduced to her work she is very inspiring, I have been thinking about rubbing clay into my own work and making impressions of my work in clay, but haven't got round to it yet, this has inspired me to think more seriously about it. Thank you

  2. Cloth is such a powerful carrier of meaning in so many ways. I had never thought of the warp being analogous to time. To reveal the invisible element of time in matter is exciting and inspirational. Thank you for bringing this up.

  3. Wow, thanks for introducing me to this fascinating artist.

  4. Wow! What a great find. These pieces definitely "speak" to me. Thanks for sharing. xo

  5. This is powerful work. Thank you for introducing it.

  6. beautiful work. thanks, judy.

  7. You made me reflect about how I used canvas when I was a painter. I hadn't realized until now that it has many connections with what I do now.

  8. can't count how many times i've sat and read your words and gazed at these cloths - mesmerized, smitten, quieted i am. i feel them. deeply.

  9. Thanks for this. What she says about adding a new dimension is so resonant.


Thank you for taking the time to connect. Much appreciated.xx