Networked by Ulrike Isensee

Exhibition  /  20 Jan 2023  -  25 Feb 2023
Published: 09.01.2023

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Ulrike Isensee is undoubtedly one of the best contemporary textile artists. And that also implies that she is one of the most creative and adventurous.

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Ulrike Isensee
Transparent textile compositions and abstract fabrics; Playing with air and colour.

Ulrike Isensee does "networking" of a different kind: the textile artist captures colors and shapes in delicate nets and creates airy, light fabric structures that adorn walls as surface objects or adorn delicate, wearable cloths.

Fine threads create shapes and colors: Networked - transparent textile compositions and abstract fabrics, the name of the exhibition about the textile works of art by Ulrike Isensee, shows a selection of series from the past few years. Transparent nets, created on the sewing machine or made on the hand loom, form the basis of the objects. They get their filling from colorful fabrics and recycled, sometimes surprising materials that create excitement and catch the eye. Sometimes graphic, sometimes playful, the fine and delicate structures reveal a wide range of experimental techniques related to the internet. In addition to personal works, there are pieces that were created as a homage to female Bauhaus artists, the Bauhaus weavers.

It's amazing what Ulrike Isensee puts on the internet. Ribbons, dots, stripes, small squares, rhombuses and circles, patches and rags, mostly extremely colourful and made of noble material - cotton, linen or silk. Together they result in extravagant, extremely attractive, extremely delicate mesh fabrics that have already received many awards.

Nets are her trademark. Sometimes fine-meshed, sometimes coarse-meshed, sometimes black and white, sometimes colourful, sometimes playful, sometimes strictly structured. But always with a lightness and originality that are unique. Ulrike Isensee is undoubtedly one of the best contemporary textile artists. And that also implies that she is one of the most creative and adventurous.

The basis for the desire to experiment lay the art studies at the University of Fine Arts in Hamburg. Here Ulrike Isensee learned how important the free, unconventional handling of materials is. She wanted to devote herself entirely to textile art. She completed an apprenticeship as a hand weaver to give her talent a solid foundation.

The master’s examination in 1992 was followed by the first award, the Hamburg Chamber of Crafts Promotion Prize, and many other prizes over the years – including the Hessian State Prize, the Justus Brinckmann Prize and the Lotte Hofmann Memorial Prize. The technical sophistication, the willingness to experiment and the extraordinary range of expressive possibilities were always emphasized.

Contrary to the traditional weave, Ulrike Isensee does, in fact, cross borders between free and applied art: transparent, extremely poetic-looking fabrics made of floating, flexible threads. The thread nets created in this way are covered with all sorts of fabric and fabric remnants, including leather or plastic elements, and then sewn up. This results in bold mixtures of materials and colour combinations that can be worn as scarves. Whether playful, delicate, opulent or geometrically strict - they are wearable works of art in any case.

Sometimes Ulrike Isensee enlarges her objects to huge wall hangings. A large selection of her oeuvre is shown in this exhibition. Large-scale works are the great passion of the Hamburg native, and they are no longer border crossers, but can clearly be assigned to free art.

As "Hommage à Niki de Saint Phalle" and "Hommage à Sonia Delaunay" she produced textile objects that represent a special mixture of anarchically colourful patterned textile elements made of cotton, silk and linen on the one hand and strict geometric shapes made of pongee silk and microfibre fabric on the other.

In the "Memories" project, she dealt with everyday memories and based them on objects such as "New Year's Eve" or "Shopping Tour". They are made of different materials that can be viewed as carriers of memories and that she woven and sewn into textile surfaces. She intended to create memorial objects that viewers could identify with and that they could also fill with their memories.

On the occasion of the hundredth Bauhaus anniversary, her homage to the legendary Bauhaus artists Anni Albers and Gunta Stölzl was created. Grandiose, geometric assemblages, room dividers and wall objects - all of them innovative work interpretations of the highly talented and self-confident "Weaver women", who even today are far less well known than their male colleagues around Gropius, Kandinsky, Breuer and Co. And they were too Textile artists with their revolutionary designs, which brought considerable attention to the Bauhaus in its brief heyday.

Isabelle Hofman.

Opening: Thursday 19th January 2023, 6 - 8 pm.
Welcome: B. Michael Andressen, Chairman of the Bavarian Arts and Crafts Association.
Introducing: Sniff by Gwinner, Art Historian.
Ulrike Isensee at the loom..
Ulrike Isensee at the loom.

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Wall Object,  Hommage to Niki de Saint Phalle..
Wall Object,  Hommage to Niki de Saint Phalle.

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Wall Object: Bauhaus..
Wall Object: Bauhaus.

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Memory of a shopping trip: wall object made of shopping bags..
Memory of a shopping trip: wall object made of shopping bags.

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