There is an eternal dichotomy in Brigitte Bouquin-Sellès's textile arworks currently on display in a compact exhibition located on the ground floor of Palazzo Mocenigo, the Venice-based Museum and Study Center of the History of Fabrics and Costumes.
"Life in Red and White" (until 30th September 2018) features a series of pieces that go from tiny to monumental and invite visitors to discover the magic power of fibres and materials and the tension between solid fabrics such as felt and fragile threads.
Born in Angers, Brigitte Bouquin-Sellès trained at the local Ecole des Beaux-Arts under Pierre Daquin, a pioneer of the Nouvelle Tapisserie.
In 1987 she joined the regional art textile centre in Angers and started working on a series of public and private projects, both by herself and in collaboration with other artists. One of the first pieces she created is the "Vin du monde" tapestry, based on a cartoon made by Jean Lurçat for the Contemporary Tapestry Museum in Angers.
While working as a tapestry-maker at the History and Art Department of the city, the artist, who currently lives and works in Les Ponts-de-Cé and has a studio in Trélazé, developed another parallel practice, making large artworks using fibres.
Among her favourite materials there is industrial felt: she twists, knots and weaves, reassembles and restructures it to create intricate wall landscapes that she dubs "Coques" (Shells).
Sellès employs felt as a painter would use brushstrokes, but she arranges the felt strips as if she were a jazz musician improvising experimental soundscapes.
The elegant white felt artworks built by weaving thick and long with thin and short strips of material, seem to have the same power of Lucio Fontana's slashed paintings, they invite you indeed to go beyond their monochromatic purity and discover other spatial dimensions.
Sellès' work proceeds by contrasts: she creates miniature pieces or she opts for artworks that cover entire walls; she uses only a few fragile threads or thousands of them.
Some of the artworks on display at Palazzo Mocenigo have a cosmic power: they seem to grow from the walls, erupting with a primordial strength and with the power of a seductive virus or of alien flowers suddenly blooming, enticing visitors to stretch their hands and touch them.
Apart from felt there is another material that the artist used for the textile landscapes on display at Palazzo Mocenigo - selvedge waste with offcuts of threads that from a distance look like tiny and soft feathers.
Rather than being just a new form of tapestry, Sellès' art could be interpreted as a new visual and material language, characterised by a strong yet ethereal and delicately poetical semantic.
Special thanks to Chiara Squarcina, Director of Palazzo Mocenigo, and to the Mocenigo staff, in particular Monica Giani at the ticket office for facilitating my visit to the museum.