Rugs as art: Cipriano Martinez at Vanderhurd

An inspired collaboration for the exhibition Woven Cities

Composition in Black Magenta, 2015, edition of 3, hand knotted low and extra low cut pile silk & wool carpet, 139 x 178 cm, Vanderhurd & Cipriano Martinez Collaboration from Maddox Art
Composition in Black Magenta, 2015, edition of 3, hand knotted low and extra low cut pile silk & wool carpet, 139 x 178 cm, Vanderhurd & Cipriano Martinez Collaboration from Maddox Art

Walking on artworks would be anathema to most artists. Not for Venezuelan-born, Berkshire-based Cipriano Martinez. In an inspired collaboration with the renowned London and New York-based rug producer Vanderhurd, nine colourful, graphic artworks by Martinez have been “translated” into eye-catching limited-edition rugs, which are going on show at Maddox Arts (Friday November 27 to Saturday December 19). There is no need to walk on them during the exhibition, however, as they are hung like paintings on the gallery walls.

Composition in Blue Black, 2015, edition of 3, hand woven flat weave silk dhurrie, 271 x 215 cm, Vanderhurd & Cipriano Martinez Collaboration from Maddox Arts.
Composition in Blue Black, 2015, edition of 3, hand woven flat weave silk dhurrie, 271 x 215 cm, Vanderhurd & Cipriano Martinez Collaboration from Maddox Arts.

Martinez, whose work can be seen in Latvia’s Mark Rothko Art Centre and Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Caracas in Venezuela and is collected privately in Latin America, the US and Europe, usually uses oil paint on canvas and print-making to create his artworks. Now his bold, discordant patterns have been woven by Vanderhurd’s skilled craftsmen in Indiainto flat-weave rugs of varying sizes. Composition in Black Magenta (first picture) is a silk cut-pile construction combined with a wool ground, while a further eight (including Composition in Blue Black, second picture, Composition in Cream Burnt Orange, third picture, and Composition in Orange Violet, fourth picture) are woven as silk dhurries, using a special yarn-spinning technique developed by Vanderhurd that gives the rugs their lustre, strong colour and durability. Each design (from £1,100 per sq m) is available in an edition of three.

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“The idea for this collaboration came from Christine van der Hurd, who first saw Martinez’s prints at the Multiplied Art Fair at Christie’s South Kensington, where we were showing his work along with prints by Jesús Soto and Carlos Cruz-Diez,” says Mario Palencia, director of Maddox Arts. “The project was born out of her admiration for his work and the electrifying atmosphere of their first encounter in her studio.”

Composition in Cream Burnt Orange, 2015, edition of 3, hand woven flat weave silk dhurrie, 259 x 358 cm, Vanderhurd & Cipriano Martinez Collaboration from Maddox Arts
Composition in Cream Burnt Orange, 2015, edition of 3, hand woven flat weave silk dhurrie, 259 x 358 cm, Vanderhurd & Cipriano Martinez Collaboration from Maddox Arts

“Martinez has a strong graphic-design background stemming from his early days helping in his uncle’s printing studio,” he adds. “The designs selected by Martinez for the dhurries represent some of the patterns used in his oil paintings over the past eight years, plus a couple of new ones. The weaving produces a unique textile finish ­– light but dense, with a richness that’s comparable with oil paintings. I think that hanging them as if they were abstract paintings will produce a new result.”

Composition in Orange Violet, 2015, edition of 3, hand woven flat weave silk dhurrie, 341 x 241 cm, Vanderhurd & Cipriano Martinez Collaboration from Maddox Arts
Composition in Orange Violet, 2015, edition of 3, hand woven flat weave silk dhurrie, 341 x 241 cm, Vanderhurd & Cipriano Martinez Collaboration from Maddox Arts

City topographies and urban landscapes provide Martinez with his inspiration. Street grids, highway intersections and even paving slabs are clearly evident in his creations, but what he does so distinctly is turn these familiar patterns into disrupted geometries and distorted optical effects, employing vivid colours to tease the eye. As in any city, order and chaos are inextricably intertwined in these designs.

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A small selection of Martinez’s oil paintings (£2,800-£9,000) is also on display, but the show-stealers in this imaginative exhibition are the rugs. Whether hung on the wall or positioned on the floor, they look amazing.

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