Carpenters Workshop Gallery brings together Simone Prouvé’s ‘hangings’, alongside the Japanese-French duo Aki+Arnaud Cooren’s Tiss-Tiss series, in an exhibition that weaves together the material, conceptual and historical narratives of these renowned artists.
Simone Prouvé and Aki+Arnaud Cooren’s work respond to one another in intricate ways through an exploration of materials, craftsmanship and aesthetics. Where Simone Prouvé’s work retains its flexibility, the Tiss-Tiss pieces are rigid. Both artists’ works resemble fabric from a distance, and it is only upon closer inspection that their true materials reveal themselves.
Julien Lombrail, co-founder of Carpenters Workshop Gallery, comments: “It is exciting to open this collaborative show, Flexible Rigidity, presenting these unique works that weave into one another through their narratives, inspiration and materials. The focus on texture and material presented in this exhibition will leave you enthralled.”
Over an expansive career specialising in fabric production, the French artist Simone Prouvé has brought weaving into the public space, contributing to an extensive number of architectural projects. Since the 1990s, she has researched, tested and incorporated industrial materials such as steel wire, glass fibres, Kevlar® and polyethylene into her weavings. Her tapestries and ‘hangings’ have incorporated flame-retardant fibres, which are more commonly associated with clothing for firefighters or fire safety in buildings, alongside natural fibres like wool and linen; and it is these works which are included in this exhibition.
Aki+Arnaud Cooren’s Tiss-Tiss series of aluminium furniture highlights their cross-disciplinary approach, fusing notions of traditional handwoven textiles with aluminium in a minimalist design aesthetic. Tiss-Tiss was recently displayed in their debut solo exhibition at the Carpenters Workshop Gallery in London, featuring a selection of new works including chairs, a dining table, bedside tables, stools, a bench and lamps.
Each work from Aki+Arnaud Cooren’s Tiss-Tiss series, crafted in their Paris atelier, is assembled from sand-cast aluminium sheets, exposing a relief of fabric on both sides of the sheets and sewn stitch imprints along their edges. They capture a moment in time during which the linen fabric was carefully laid out, emphasising the beauty of traditional hand-weaving techniques and resulting irregularity. The fluid impression of the textile imprint is juxtaposed to the architectonic, self-supporting structure of the rigid aluminium plates.
Tiss-Tiss, in itself, also represents many dualities – a confluence between the Japanese Mingei movement and modernist European furniture design. Simone Prouvé’s ‘hangings’ operate with a translucence that subtly impose their abstract compositions over the architectural material, transforming their landscapes into something as ethereal as a watermark. Simone Prouvé also finds inspiration for her abstract compositions through her passion for photography.
Craftsmanship was instilled in these artists at a young age thanks to generational talent. Aki Cooren’s father, Shinji Naoi, is a pioneering silversmith in Japan who first introduced her to metal work. Similarly, Simone Prouvé is the daughter of Jean Prouvé, the acclaimed metalworker and self-taught architect. Yet, it was her mother who taught her to sew and had the idea that weaving could respond to her. Aki+Arnaud Cooren have been influenced by the post-war reconstructive designers such as Sori Yanagi and Jean Prouvé, making their works feel further connected to those of Simone Prouvé.
Simone Prouvé comments: “It would not even occur to me to say that my work is creative or not. What interests me is to start from the material, from the colour, do something simple and make it look obvious to everyone. And I believe this is obvious in this exhibition. The technical research we undertake around metal as well as our curiosity for what surrounds us, what we photograph, all of this brings us closer with Aki and Arnaud.”
Aki+Arnaud comment: “Texture, material and craftsmanship are at the centre of our work, Tiss-Tiss. We feel close to Simone Prouvé by the common interest of taking pictures of our surroundings as well as her perpetual research in material, colour, texture and technique. We love having discussions with her and are fascinated by her overflowing curiosity.”