Common Thread at the Art Fairs: Nicholas Hlobo, Jessica Rankin, Sara Rahbar

Nicholas Hlobo, [anybody know the title?]

I had a romance with textile works before, but after seeing some of the works at the art fairs I’m absolutely in love with threads. These three pieces struck me as using textile well. Unfortunately the stills I made from video (after my camera died!) are pretty horrific, so let me explain that above Nicholas Hlobo stitched on thick cream paper with thread that wandered across the surface picking up detritus like the surgical mask in the bottom left corner. It took up a huge space at the Michaela Stevensona Gallery booth at the Armory.

Also at the Armory, Jessica Rankin stitches, or rather creates a kind of delicate tapestry, of glittering dark threads with words interspersed below.

Jessica Rankin, Dark Star

Detail shot of the words, left, show how well integrated they are in the piece, and also what a nice shadow they created on the wall behind. WhiteCube Gallery says the artist’s work features a series of ‘mental maps’, with codes, signs and symbols that explore ideas of memory, intuition and interpretation.

The threads in these works were delicate tendrils, trying to hold things together in a bare palette. Then with a joy I saw flag by Sara Rahbar at Pulse Art Fair. The Iranian artist often works with flags to deal with the meaning of culture on an individual level. Here she collaged thick decorative floral patterns over the American flag. The artist works with themes of identity, location, country, so perhaps it is not so far fetched that this work by an Iranian artist who grew up in the United States should speak to me about my trip to Mexico, which, by the by, is going splendidly.

Sara Rahbar, The Fortune Teller (Flag #25), 2008

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