Weaving, Restoring, Healing is the title of Catheline van de Branden’s exhibition currently running at the House of Aggeliki Chatzimichali/Museum of folk art in Plaka.
The exhibition will be featuring 20 works by the artist, created using a variety of media (painting, engraving, printing) and on a variety of surfaces (mylar, Japanese and cotton paper).
The exhibition is curated by Katerina Koskina and will be running from 28 May to 7 July 2023.
Catheline van de Branden answered our questions.
With your work you create illusions of knits and weavings. What fascinates you about the art of weaving? Do you use real threads in your work?
There is of course the rich history of weaving and how it can be found in nearly every culture through varied forms: that alone speaks to me, how an artisanal, useful technique crosses over borders. Anything that transcends culture, time and place draws me in. I also see the actual loop-forming process as a symbolic representation of life’s journey. There is rhythm in the making of weaves, a sort of “ breathing” if you will, and rules which create a routine, with expected paths to follow. And as in life, there are often mishaps along the way, unexpected choices we need to make – this is where my own weaving illustrations will falter and unravel. As for using real thread, yes I do use it in some of my work. The result often looks like a different version of my illustrations and paintings. In fact, even my “real” weavings are illusions, they are not usable or practical in any way. They are collages which include paper, beads, other materials – they barely hold together. This is important for my anxious but optimistic outlook: they DO hold together, just enough not to fall apart completely.
How has your style changed over time?
The question of style is tricky, and I usually avoid thinking on it too much. I like to challenge myself to continually question and learn and shift. That can sometimes result in a very disjointed body of work in terms of “style” and I really think that’s ok! So my style varies and evolves depending on time, place, materials, subject, etc…. I have had phases where political cartoons were taking up a lot of my time, others where it was figurative oil paintings, or very detailed illustrations, etc… That said, the essence of my explorations does not change much: my work mostly revolves around our human journey, our attempts at creating systems and order as we try to make sense of our world, and then: the charming absurdity of us thinking we can control it all.
Your exhibition Weaving I Restoring I Healing is currently running at the Museum of Fold Art & Tradition, Aggeliki Chatzimichali, in Athens. How do you feel about presenting your work within this context?
I feel very good about it! This museum was a home before all else but it was also a sort of weaving school at some point: it just made all the sense in the world to be there for me. Aggeliki Chatzimichali was a remarkable woman who left a gem of a place to Athens, and if the installation and exhibit can bring more people in to admire what was once her home, to take in the architecture and the many interesting works and furnishings showcased: I am all for it!
Who are your biggest artistic influences?
There could be a very long answer to this, but I would like to especially mention Ragnar Kjartansson and his mesmerizing piece “The Visitors” as a direct influence on the spirit of the work I am showing today. I saw “The Visitors” a few times while it was up at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston and it just kept drawing me in. If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s a video installation, a music piece being made, a communal experience on and off-screen, and mostly: it’s an incredibly beautiful expression of our tragic desire to connect to each other and create a whole from disparate, singular pieces.
Where do you find inspiration?
Mostly in human behaviour! But really, I tend to go with the flow and rarely use calculated ideation techniques to jump-start inspiration. I do think play and active learning are key for me. For example, I am a rather clueless but enthusiastic early adopter of new technologies, which can lead me to using materials, tools or techniques in ways they aren’t meant to be used, and once in a while that will yield interesting results! Of course, other artists are a big part of feeding my visual “journal”, so I always seek out exhibits and art happenings. And I take long, rather meditative walks: it’s a big part of my daily art practice, probably the most essential… All that said, inspiration can strike when you least expect it, at dinner during a conversation, while reading the news or a book, or going down a flight of stairs, you just have to seize it when it visits and hope for the best!
WEAVING, RESTORING, HEALING
Museum of Popular Art and Tradition Angeliki Hatzimichali
6, Aggelikis Chatzimichali Str., 10558 Athens