Fabrics, threads, canvases, textures … an ancient universe. An attitude of man since the dawn of time. Weaving is one of the most archaic artisan activities to which human beings have ever dedicated themselves, and has done so to satisfy their primary need to protect themselves from the elements. In Tania Welz’s art of weaving has also become a metaphor referring to the life of men. In the collective imagination of our ancestors – -and the suggestion endures even today — the entanglement of the fabric, the interweaving of different threads, the infinite possibilities of creative solution that weaving has allowed, are easily identified with the life paths of individuals, even when not aligned with the destinies of the whole.
Commonly, it is used to say that “life is hanging by a thread”, or that our destiny inevitably depends on events: and the verb to-hang, in fact, evokes the image of something that “hangs” from a thread . In this sense, Greek mythology has given us the most fascinating stories: just think of Penelope, wife of Ulysses, who in his weaving the canvas by day and undo it at night waiting for the beloved’s return, represents the attempt to master his own destiny escaping, thanks to deception, to marriage with one of the Proci; to Arianna, who by delivering to Teseo the thread that will allow him to get out of the Cretan labyrinth after having killed the fearsome Minotaur, binds the survival of the hero to a brilliant intuition; to Aracne, whose skill in the art of weaving condemns her to a spider (destined to spin for the whole existence) by a furious and envious Athena; finally, to the three Parcae (or Moire), powerful creatures who presided over the entire course of human life, twisting, enveloping and finally cutting the thread of life of each mortal being.
Like a modern heroine, Tania Welz uses the variety and versatility of the fabric to tell her own version of the world, to trace a path, to represent a destiny … perhaps that of the whole of humanity. In the interweaving of the fibers of a canvas, it is evident, in fact, the parallel with that dense weave that invariably links the phenomena of life and the fate of men to one another. For Welz, the fabric is an eclectic and flexible material like few others: it does not have the bi-dimensionality of a canvas, it does not have the rigidity of clay or marble … it is a lively and vital tool, multifaceted, in its expert hands, which they are skilled in giving a new life to the fabric by contaminating it with other elements, with grafts of different fibers, or by mistreating it and then recomposing it.
The art of Tania Welz, although profoundly contemporary, is an art of archaic taste, which refers to the ancient tradition of the tapestry, widespread since the most remote times throughout the world, from Africa, Japan, up to the Pre-Columbian America, but developed in Europe especially since the early fourteenth century (the word “tapestry” comes from Arras, the city of France where, in the Middle Ages, the best tapestries were produced). However, the artist aims at a new use of fibers, which leads her to choose fabrics and “finished” fabrics and to connect them to each other, through cuts, assemblages, burns and upholstery, to create large abstract works with a strong chromatic and material impact. Such compositions are always the tangible expression of an inner movement, which becomes a resonance box of social malaise: a widespread malaise at the planetary level, which Welz feels intensely, and which results in conflicts of various nature – class, race, of sex, religion, culture – from which no civilization is immune.
However, the moral task of the artist, which Tania Welz does without reserve, is to look beyond the ugliness of the world, to see a way out, to provide through the mysterious – but universal – language of art the solutions invisible to the most. And this is why, next to the cuts and tears, from the wounded surface of the canvas, an element of color, hope and beauty emerges unfailingly, like a bud in a barren plain. Through the combination of poor materials such as jute recycled with fabrics or precious inserts (gold, silk, brocade), Welz shows contemporary man a chance to care, a healing perspective that passes only through the potentiality creative inherent in each of us.
The same titles of the works have a remarkable evocative force, which fits perfectly with the juxtaposition of colors and materials of each tapestry: they tell stories of suffering, lacerations, conflicts, but also of hopes, dreams and aspirations (“And then comes the sun “,” Clash of classes “,” Bride’s end “,” Following the treasure map “, just to name a few).
The exhibition project sees a dialogue between them of 12 large works, plus a series of small works – a polyptych – that represents a kind of summa, of minimalist synthesis of Welz’s poetics, of which a preparatory drawing by her is also on show watercolor (modern equivalent of the “cardboard”, the real-sized model that was painted by a painter, often renowned, for the realization of a tapestry).
A special mention deserves the series of tapestries entitled “Be-longing”, from 2016, made from kilim rugs: in these works, as the artist himself explains, “the protagonists are used and worn carpets, fabrics by people of all world. The series represents the territorial and psychological perception, visible and internalized, of our roots. Global migrations, uprooting and the search for a new home are more and more collective phenomena of our time that require the development of a broader concept of heimat (German word that describes an inner drive of belonging to someone, something or some place): which expands beyond territorial identification and embraces cultural and individual nuances, creating new ways of being in today’s world. ”
In conclusion, through his tapestries, Tania Welz becomes the privileged interpreter of the contradictions of the world, in the conviction that only art – in the relationship that it necessarily interweaves with the surrounding environment – is able to reaffirm with force and passion what man denies, violates and debases, that is life. While we, human weavers, remain suspended and depend on that thread that we ourselves (like Aracne) secrete and govern. And despite the philosophy, the science, the technology, the evolutions of culture, our life continues to be a dense and varied fabric, an immense canvas of Penelope, of which only partially we can identify and master the threads.