Dobranyi & Hegyi Foundation
(former Ildiko Dobranyi Foundation)

Ibolya Hegyi: Web of Time (Detail)

I count myself fortunate to have discovered a genre every single phase in the knowing and cultivation of which evokes in me the lost Golden Age about which Béla Hamvas writes the following: ʻ…culture entailed recognising the intellectual and spiritual traditions of mankind, the creation of a new Golden Age, the quest for the lost meaning of life, where in harmony with Nature symbols and analogies regain their sense, and communities again live in accordance with divine law’.

The ancient texture of weaving shows similarities not only with the image-creating methods of the late 20th century (digital photographs, the pixellated structure of images on computer screens), but also with language and with the primarily Oriental kind of philosophical thinking where mention is made of the fabric of life. The origins, quality, and colours of the threads offer opportunities for an additional way of representing our thoughts.

Contradicting accelerated time, the weaving process, which requires much work and much time, has prompted choice of themes which radiate timelessness, as I moved further and further away from depiction of things concrete.

I am fortunate, too, because for me studying and practising tapestry coincided with an experimental period of renewal in tapestry weaving, with the era when as a result of recognition of the similarities between weaving and the new methods of making images, successive members of the genre’s ‘great generation’ created the new ‘reformed weaving’ which continues to inspire our genre. They did this by rethinking the traditions of tapestry and by broadening its boundaries.

I graduated from Budapest’s Academy of Applied Arts in 1978, from the tapestry section founded by Noémi Ferenczy. With the help of Gizella Solti, one of my examiners in my final year, I set out, as she had done, on the path that crossed beyond the borders of the genre. The first stops along this path were my two series entitled Enlargement and Development respectively which first featured in the exhibition entitled ‘± Gobelin’ at the Szombathely Biennale. At this biennale, which signified a change of approach as well as a change of generation, I reflected on the anti-painting trend in the fine arts internationally in this period and also on hyperrealism (whose surge in Hungary coincided with the experimental textiles period in the country), and showed the tapestry genre as an analogy of photography, as a kind of rebellion against the ‘order’ that was still ongoing at this time: the domination of tapestry art by painters.

The technical challenge that Enlargement and Development posed was the creation of woven structures similar to the surfaces of photographs. Following Gizella Solti’s experiment known as ‘raster weaving’, using the varied opportunities offered by the materials, colours, and the weaver’s art I continued the experiments with raster surfaces and tonal values. By means of experiments, I was able to link in to the process of the renewal of the language of tapestry, the ‘working’ of which recalls the theory expounded by the American art historian George Kubler (1912–1996) in his work The Shape of Time. In this, Kubler describes the infrastructure of art as a network of interconnecting solutions in which the notions and the works of preceding generations exerted a significant influence on the new solutions. ‘In other words, when people create new forms, they commit posterity at some remote interval to continue in the track by an involuntary act of command, mediated by works of art and only by them. Here is without doubt one of most significant of all the mechanisms of cultural continuity, when the visible work of an extinct generation can still issue such powerful stimuli.’ Kubler allotted a leading role to technical innovations: ‘As the linked solutions accumulate, the contours of a quest by several persons are disclosed, a quest in search of forms enlarging the domain of aesthetic discourse. That domain concerns affective states of being, and its true boundaries are rarely if ever disclosed by objects or pictures or buildings taken in isolation. The continuum of connected effort makes the single work more pleasurable and more intelligible than in isolation.’ According to my perception, the ‘linguistic turn’ in Hungary of autonomous woven tapestry art is due to these mechanisms. Following this change, new styles of weaving appeared in the story of Hungarian autonomous tapestry art which bear the marks of their creators’ individuality, just as in literature particular syntax, phraseology, and artistic devices indicate the individuality of writers.

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