Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Eduardo and Maria Portillo

Detail of Nocturno
Yesterday I received these images by email from the extraordinarily talented Eduardo and Maria Portillo, and they quite frankly, made my heart skip a beat. The images show their work that is in a current exhibition 'Azul Indigo' in Caracas celebrating their exquisite use of indigo dying. But its not just about dying: the weave structures and dramatic yarn combinations take the colour exploration to another level. The work is utterly absorbing both from afar and up close: I love the way the ordered grid structure ripples, undulates and surprises as a result of the different yarn characters. 

The artworks aim to capture the various shades of blue that take us through the day; from the inky midnight blue sky, to a sky laden with rain, to the transparent air of the afternoon tinged with golden sunlight.

The exhibition is on until the 27th January. Sadly I won't be able to indulge myself with a trip to Caracas, but should you be nearby, you must go and savour this exhibition.... 

Detail of Nubes

En la Noche 

Detail of En la Noche 
Al Amanecer
Detail of Al Amanecer

Detai lof La Noche

The artists image reflected in an indigo dye vat

UPDATE, 15th March 2013
Here is some text that Eduardo and Maria have sent me translated from the catalogue that accompanies the exhibition. Enjoy.....

A Blue Journey
by María Dávila & Eduardo Portillo

Blue, color of multiple meanings, is also the color of hope. Every day dawns and the blue accompanies us in the sky, in the sea and in the distant mountains.

We see the blue in the morning but  in the  afternoon shows transparent with yellow and white. At night it darkens and with the moonlight follows a blue air. With the stars, in the morning, when it's almost dawn, the blue is still there.

Ten years ago, in 2002, when we found the indigo blue and draw travel lines to see the color of the peoples of Southeast Asia, of  the desert´s blue men , the Andean textiles and blue jeans, the eternal blue.

Indigo is obtained from various plants containing "indican" and Indigofera tinctoria L is the most used. As it is  insoluble in water, requiring an alkaline medium and a reducing agent to become soluble. When the vat takes an amber appearance, the fiber is immersed there, extracted  and with the air contact indigo oxidize to become  blue color.

In ancient times, due to its complex preparation process, the indigo vat was restricted to the hands of specialists. Its transformation from yellow-green to infinite variety blues was full of  magic and rigor.

In Venezuela still grows wild the indigo plant which was the base of an important industry for the country in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

In the highlands of Mérida there remains the memory of using this dye in wool blankets.

The discovery of synthetic indigo in 1880 revolutionized the way to obtain the blue in the world, in a few years replacing the use of natural indigo.

Today indigo culture remains in traditional communities in Asia, Africa and Latin America and in a wide universe of contemporary artists who see in its process a synthesis of history, culture and life.

In the mountains of southwest China, where the golden evening light bathes their endless   and steep terraces planted with rice, Dong people wears blue, almost black, their cotton fabrics dyed in indigo that seems to become waterproof paper after going through a slow and fascinating process of immersion in the juice of some plants and systematic exposure to the sun.

In northeast Thailand, indigo is full of superstition and alchemy. In every home the recipe for its preparation is different, secret ; add brown sugar, pineapple, tamarind, liquor, prove it, smell it, they keep it "alive". There all hands are blue; for a moment everything is blue.

In southern India still there are some indigo plantations, where the rhythmic "dance" of blue bodies in pools of indigo oxygenates the obtained extract , which should be processed until the dye is achieved.

In the Andes, in Africa and Japan, the art, study, research, trial and error are present in every indigo vat. To travel in search for Indigo  could be itself  a motive for a lifetime, every "vat" is different, each vision is unique, we  decided to try to find our own blue. After this intense experience, we interlaced the blue with our searchs and then brought them into the loom.

After a necessary pause we have resumed the pleasure found years ago, exploring the art of indigo dyeing, immersed in their vats again and over again, and we brought it to textiles structures that move us to get closer to blue moments of everyday: the night, the moon, the sky, the clouds, dawn, dusk, moments of everybody, moments filled with blue.

We have tried to fuse into the blue  the silk from Mérida, moriche palm from the Orinoco river´s delta, the wool of the Andes, and cotton, dyed in indigo and complementing it with other natural sources of color (cochineal, eucalyptus and onion) and with metallic yarns.

The space is constructed using blocks and mosaics born from triple weave , which is based on the interlacement of three layers of warp yarns advancing simultaneously and independently  while is weaving each one of them, therefore it should be weave three times the length  of the fabric obtained.

The various combinations of blues are revealed by Taqueté, an ancient textile structure , based on the sequences of  three or four colors yarn groups in the weft or in the warp

Today we celebrate the encounter, a blue vision of the world, a vision about the universal indigo blue, navigating the collective imaginary of some moments of the day and we endevour to get them into the space of the wide textile world.-

Dec 2012