Friday, February 7, 2014

Chiyoko Tanaka

red stripe #262 1988  24 x 18 cm, hand woven ramie, linen, silk, rubbed with brick
"Many of my pieces, once woven by hand, are laid down outdoors on the ground or on a rock.  I then rub them carefully with a stone or brick.  I want to touch the earth through this process, to trace the texture of the ground".  Chiyoko Tanaka

 upper: six squares, indigo blue, W #306 1994  lower: six squares, indigo blue, RF #305 1994
Chiyoko Tanaka, born 1941 Kyoto Japan, is a weaver who thinks about her work philosophically, comparing it to the human condition.   British curator, Lesley Millar's, essay about Tanaka is included in the Telos portfolio about the artist and informs this post.  The images of Tanaka's work are from that portfolio and from Art Textiles of the World Japan also published by Telos.  
six squares indigo blue W #306 detail
Chiyoko Tanaka uses linen, silk, and ramie threads.  She lays out a long warp which gradually disappears during the weaving process, covered by the weft.

Trace of a Leaf #151 1988

She considers the vertical warp threads to represent time and the horizontal weft threads to represent space.
The crossing points of warp and weft physically disappear from view, but continue to exist as integral to the fabric.  The accumulation of the weft threads represents time passing.  When she weaves, she thinks about the process as one of transformation.
Trace of a Leaf #151 detail

By grinding her newly woven cloth with earth, she exposes that original warp.  She unveils the essence of the fabric. "I feel that my woven work is about time and the human condition."  Chiyoko Tanaka
red stripes on white stripes #646 and #647. both 1985
Sometimes, instead of grinding her finished fabrics, she permeates them with mud or oil.  Tanaka distresses her fabrics, as if they were human beings going through a life time of both happy days and days filled with hard ships.
Trace of White Line #641 above, White Line #642 below, both 1985
"I want to see a spirituality behind a piece of my work."  Chiyoko Tanaka
Black Stains on Deep Green Stripes #52 1990
Tanaka uses bricks of clay from different parts of the world.  The brick is rubbed into the back of the fabric until it changes colour and at the same time, the face of the material takes on the patina of the ground.
It's like a performance. 
Three Squares, Blue Threads, Sienna #281 1997
The structural integrity of the warp and weft is revealed.   We can see time passing with the erosion of materials, but it is all done in the present moment. 
Three Squares, Blue Threads and Gray, #671 1997
Tanaka's work makes us aware of time passing, "neither looking for death, nor denying it, but accepting its place in the cycle of renewal"  Lesley Millar
left: red earthy clay #200 1985, right: permeated black #400 1986
Chiyoko Tanaka has an intimacy with nature.  She lives on the outskirts of Kyoto, close to natural space.  She has an awareness of the tempo of the natural world and this is the basis of her work.
Permeated Black #400  1986
When mud is used as a dye, it is left for a period of time so that it can 'permeate' the cloth.  Time is one of Tanaka's most important materials.
wall:  Blue #100-2 1983,  floor:  White, B #100-1 2983
What are you weaving, Chiyoko?
"I am weaving time"
 white mud cross, red thread #652 1992 19 x 19 cm hand woven ramie
"At the still point of the turning world.
...neither from nor towards.
At the still point, there the dance is."  T S Eliot

Chiyoko Tanaka was profiled in 2003 on Culturebase and again in 2010 by Kate Barber who visited her. 

mud dots on brown stripes #742, hand woven linen, ramie, dyed with mud  2009
She is represented by Brown Grotta  source of the above image.  (the most recent I could find)