The key factor that informed the concept behind Henzel Studio Collaborations and made it possible is the artistic practice of Calle Henzel, founder and creative director of Henzel Studio. Over the past fifteen years, he has created an autodidact operation where his work as an artist is expressed through the medium of rugs. Early on in his artistic career, he turned to rugs via a path of textile experimentations that solidified his commitment to the media. With an uncompromised artistic integrity and creative methodology, he has created his own independent and commercially viable structure. Over the years, Henzel has mastered the production of his chosen art form, utilizing techniques that have been developed and preserved by local communities in Nepal for centuries. Both author and producer of his designs, Henzel has elevated the implementation of art into the media at hand and further blurred the distinction between disciplines.
The inclusion of the participating artists in this first volume was, in part, inspired by Calle Henzel’s independent voice and stature in the world of art and design. Each artist was invited and selected to synergize with the next, gravitating toward artists that have each established their own rules in the art world, either by practice or by status. The result is a curation that, when combined, offers an eclectic, aesthetically broad and authentic grouping, with an overall common denominator of openness to the crossdisciplinary practice at hand, which can also be traced in the artists’ body of work.
The artists are all groundbreaking and leading forces within their respective fields and media, ranging from sculpture, drawing, collage, photography, installations, reliefs and video art. Their mark has not only been honored and highlighted at leading galleries and institutions worldwide, but also widely documented and manifested as a mirror of cultural movements. For example, there’s Scott Campbell’s autonomous voice as both a tattoo and fine artist; Linder’s uncompromising work that helped shape the aesthetic of punk; Robert Knoke’s redefining of portraiture for the 21st century; Richard Prince’s enthralling methods of re-appropriation; Helmut Lang’s sculptural exploration beyond the human form and Leo Gabin spearheading the immersion of online user-generated content into art.
Art rugs have been around for quite some time in various forms, and some of the most prominent artists including Francis Bacon, Louise Bourgeois, Alexander Calder, Robert Indiana, Mike Kelley, Ellsworth Kelly, Fernand Leger, Roy Lichtenstein, Henri Matisse, Joan Miro, Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol have all turned to the media at some point in their oeuvre. However, rather than look back, we’re looking to encapsulate facets of contemporary art and work with a curated group of artists that simultaneously express their ethos within a broad yet defined scope. Having twelve leading contemporary artists collaborate in this capacity makes Henzel Studio Collaborations an unprecedented program, even though the artisan practices remind us that the possibility has always been there.
Free to disregard design movements and related principles and rules, the featured artists were invited to freely and seamlessly translate their work and artistic ethos into the media at hand, exploring shape, volume and finishings, where practicality was secondary to concept. The creative brief allowed the artists to embrace the outcome as part of their body of work. Unique designs were created that complement their artistic practice. For example, Anselm Reyle chose to expand on his celebrated foil paintings, which thrive on being reproduced and gain further purpose once multiplied. The art collective assume vivid astro focus created artwork in parallel with their 2013 exhibition alisabel viril apagão fenomenal at Casa Triângulo in São Paulo, a visual commentary on the reckless real estate development taking place in the city. Marilyn Minter used a photograph of a cracked glass surface as basis for a rug that utilizes the production possibilities at hand to the fullest through variable pile heights and surface treatments, to create one of the most complex hand-knotted rugs in the history of the craft.
Whatever the use of these rugs — hung onto a wall, or displayed on the floor — the chosen context will be as subjective as the question of applied versus fine art, a distinction we encourage and hope will remain. Joakim Andreasson, Curator