Maria Wettergren – Fantasia

Emdal’s first solo exhibition at Galerie Maria Wettergren, Fantasia, appears as a fluid stream of works and places from Casa Balandra in Majorca to Rome, followed by Copenhagen and Skagen in Denmark. For the past seven months, the artist – accompanied by her travel vertical carpet loom, watercolors and a vintage analogue camera – has been moving to new locations where she has explored ancient textile history, cultural history, site-specific colors and childhood memories, in the company of creative communities.

Emdal characterizes herself as a textile composer, transforming emotions and ambiences into tangible textile structures, and her works are indeed ethereal and poetic like music. For the exhibition, the Danish artist has been working on a new family of textile sculptures, which she has delicately hand-woven in Icelandic wool, using her own fusion technique, Touch, based on a carpet knot technique and a special brushing, transforming the fibers into subtle layers of fur-like poetry. Influenced by nature and textile traditions of the past, yet with a strong futuristic appearance, her Touch works evoke hybrid aesthetics and timeframes, offering widespread associations, such as animal furs, butterflies, ceremonial artifacts and luscious parures. Sensitive and sensual, the wool sculptures vibrate with the slightest air and seem almost alive, like creatures from outer space, or exotic species from the deep-sea – another great inspiration to the artist, besides science fiction and music.

Emdal’s way of working may seem close to the meaning of the Greek word phantasia, usually translated to “imagination”. However, in Greek thought the word retains a connection with the verb phainomai, “I appear”, which refers both to the psychological capacity to receive, interpret, and even produce appearances, as well as to those appearances themselves. Signe (and what a felicitous name!) receives and interprets phenomena, while producing new enigmatic appearances. She is spiritually and intellectually nourished by culturally rich places, and she considers the Fantasia exhibition as a long line of connective past and future threads, where movement and changes of scenery have had a great impact on her and her artworks. These cultures are not only studied, they are digested and absorbed through an intimate, spiritual process, turned towards nature and the universe.

Graduating from the Kolding School of Design in 2007 with an MA in textile design, specialized in Jacquard knitting techniques and conceptual textile structures, Emdal has fifteen years of experience with both hand-woven and digital textile art, ranging from fashion textiles to highly complex art tapestries, inspired by art history, ancient textiles, cultural and philosophical studies, feminism, interdisciplinarity and spiritual processes.

A sensual, almost animistic feeling reaches an unprecedented level in Emdal’s Touch works, developed from 2019 onwards. The Icelandic wool seems to introduce a heightened attention to sensitivity and to textile as a living material in Emdal’s work, and from this point forward, she has primarily unfolded her research through the delicate Icelandic wool, a natural fiber, which according to the artist is able to live, if treated the right way.

In order to observe the subtle nuances, a certain distance needs to be maintained. The Touch sculptures are, despite their name, not to be touched, regardless of their irresistible tactility. If they are touched, they are altered in their perfect, frosty appearance, like a finger in candyfloss. This paradox creates a sublime frustration, which not only heightens the pleasure of pure contemplation, but also provokes a feeling of awe and protection for the delicate creations or creatures (characteristically, Emdal often names her works like persons or animals, referring to them as she). They are fantasies, chimeras, and mysterious appearances… Please do not touch. Let yourself be touched.

From September 7 to November 25, 2023

Galerie Maria Wettergren
121 rue Vieilles du Temple,
75003 Paris