Dynamic, sensually enticing, infinitely colorful, delicately intimate, and often monumental and space-defining: the fabrics, sculptures, and installations of artist Sheila Hicks challenge traditional notions of art and explore new territories. Hicks is a virtuoso in textile vocabularies and their historical traditions, interweaving the fine arts with design, the applied arts, and architecture to create objects and environments in which materiality, tactility, form, and color—ranging from the subtle to the vibrantly luminous—become a fascinating language of their own. In the MAK exhibition SHEILA HICKS: Thread, Trees, River, her first solo show in Austria, the artist presents both recent and familiar works with room-filling sculptures, relating them to the architecture.
Born in Nebraska (1934), Sheila Hicks, trained as a painter, sees fibers and textiles as more than merely working materials, regarding them as both archaic and contemporary media linking interdisciplinary fields around the globe. Exploring and working in different cultures since the 1950s, she has been one of the most significant figures in contemporary art, whose multifaceted creations are characterized by an amazing sense of color and by intense engagement with architecture and photography. Inspired by the concepts of the Wiener Werkstätte and the Bauhaus, Hicks transcends media, national, and gender boundaries – emphasizing the vast sociopolitical connotations of textiles. Her immensely rich knowledge of indigenous weaving practices—gleaned from working in North and Latin America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, India, and Asia—is integral to her multi-faceted work.
In the monographic exhibition SHEILA HICKS: Thread, Trees, River, the artist presents four thematic sceneries that highlight different aspects of her wide-ranging oeuvre. A series of monumental Prayer Rugs (1970–1974) created in Morocco, interacts with the Tor zum Garten [Door to the Garden] (1990) by Walter Pichler (1936–2012), symbolizing the transition between inner and outer space. Her works, executed in a variety of knotting and weaving techniques, explore the theme of cultural appropriation. The bas-relief panels or rugs—embedded in a secular context—hung on the walls, inspire and direct the occidental gaze to hidden perspectives. The uplifting arched forms symbolize the ambivalence of ties whose tension is created by the simplest of means, juxtaposing the closing and drawing of borders, an ideal of all-encompassing openness.
Due to the current health situation, the MAK will remain closed until further notice.