The ruin, its fragments, and the wheel of reproduction ad infinitum correspond in the carpet drawings of Berlin based Sebastian Hammwöhner. He is an artist who employs appropriation with the forensic methods of cultural anthropology and the contextual chess games of contemporary art. As conjurer of deceptive material images he uses pastel to draw representations of real carpets through trompe l’oeil illusionism. Referenced from photographic book reproductions on textiles and rugs, and Internet databases, the carpets appropriated by Hammwöhner have either an archaic history or are contemporary rugs produced in the present era still using the old hand loom methods with repurposed fabrics.

Much as the loom operator interlaces long threads into knots, Hammwöhner uses pastel to build up an image suspended within a black monochromatic field. This use of pure pigment conjures brilliantly rich colors into indelible simulacra. In the contemporary art context of the present they are both appropriations of an original source and partial fabrications that extract elements from traditional design motifs. These archived images become newly animate objects with their embedded cultural history.

In responding to our digital culture at-large Hammwöhner responds to the impressions of the surrounding media platforms by creating a new surrealism. He extracts the narratives knotted by the carpet weaver and in his own style combines these built-in geometric abstract and figurative motifs found in the carpets, altering and playing with its scale right down to the frayed edges. Methodically he plays with viewer perception by turning a photographic representation of an artifact into a hyperrealist drawing of a representative object, the carpet.

Sebastian Hammwöhner’s most recent carpet drawings are abstract forms based on contemporary Moroccan Boucherrouite rugs that are hand produced using recycled fabrics. Pushing the boundaries of the carpet-drawings he scans the image then alters them in the computer, deconstructing, rearranging, and painting them digitally. The newly restructured virtual “carpet” then becomes the template pattern for the pastel drawings. Original artifact, virtual representation, appropriation, and copy are intertwined and mirrored. Real space becomes virtual space and vice versa. Old textiles, get new life as carpets and thereafter feats of trompe l’oeil illusionism through color and pattern.

Max Henry

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