Ildiko Dobranyi Foundation
 
Elsje Janssen: Grass and Fire, Film and Fibre: Tapestries by Ildikó Dobrányi
I remember very vividly the first time I saw a tapestry created and woven by Ildikó Dobrányi. It was at the 4ème Festival de la Tapisserie in Beauvais, France in 1999. I was walking through the museum galleries, most of them old rooms with a lot of charm, and enjoying the pieces on display. Going from one room to the other, it was obvious that some tapestries were well presented while others did not get the attention they deserved. It was interesting seeing weavings from all over Europe. And then, suddenly, I ran into a magnificent piece: a big square tapestry with an intense orange-red background and a bright green horse in the middle. It had an overwhelming presence. The red was not just a red woven surface: it was full of movement. Small, seemingly nervously drawn lines like scratches filled the field. The elegantly shaped horse, depicted in profile, stood still. Very subtly, in a fashion only visible if you paid attention and looked for a second time, by using the same colours and lines in a slightly different way, the artist had also created a border. The combination of the two complementary colours together with the quietness of the animal and the ‘burning’ field made of this tapestry a piece of art that became etched in my memory. Years later I had the pleasure of meeting the artist who made this outstanding piece, Ildikó Dobrányi. And luckily I was able to see more of her tapestries.
When you look at the evolution of Ildikó’s tapestries, there is continuity in her artistic expression, as well as renewal. Colour is an important element. Both black and white and bright colours like red, yellow and blue, as well as more sober colour schemes, have found their way into her tapestries. She has a good feeling for harmonious combinations. Nature is the dominant theme in her tapestries. Looking at them we see details of trees, foliage and grasses. One gets the impression that the artist does not show this in a clear view, but through the eye of a camera. It is reminiscent of a still from a video or of the horizontal bars on an old TV screen. Only later, after already having seen and enjoyed the tapestries, I learned from reading a text written by Ildikó that she was influenced by her father and his filmmaking. It was affirming that I experienced the tapestries in that way, without earlier knowledge. It means the artist is able to express in her weaving what she wants to, without the necessity of explaining it in words. This is not so evident in contemporary art.
Besides this, it is also obvious that the tapestries of Ildikó Dobrányi are perfectly woven. If you look closely at her work, whether it is a monumental tapestry to fill a whole wall or a small piece with more intimate measurements, you see the craftsmanship in the way she plays with the different coloured weft threads. Lines go in different directions: to the right, to the left, up and down, curved and straight, long and short, accompanied by little dots and stripes and on a background of different clouds of colour. It is the kind of work that without doubt only skilled weavers can achieve. Ildikó Dobrányi can surely be termed a ‘master weaver’ and a superb tapestry artist. We will cherish the tapestries she has left us.