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Optic Silk Thread Design – Unfettered Opportunities in an Inspiring World of Art

While the history of silk has its roots in the ancient China, its use in the arts has spread through silk roads across the globe. Not only have its inner qualities, substance and exterior display of richness made it a desirable material in many paves of arts from fashion design to silk painting, but it has also become associated with the artistic work of patience, dexterity and delicacy. Silk has made its way into becoming a desired material in many works of artists throughout history. Its application evolved and branched to undiscovered fields of imagination.

An artist from Lithuania, Danguole Brogiene, has tapped into the silk potential and has opened up some of the unfettered opportunities to transform the traditional material into up-to-date modern art.

DANGUOLE BROGIENE is a Lithuanian-born professor at Vilnius Academy of Arts where she has taught subjects ranging from costume design to interior design and the science of colours for over 20 years.  While in Lithuania at the Academy of Arts she continues to bring her experience and expertise to the future artists, her unconventional application of silk thread weaving technique in textile designs have brought her international interest and attention from the islands of Japan to the continents of the Americas.

Her true passion – textile arts – exhibits an impressive portfolio ranging from over one hundred exhibitions across the world to her works being placed in over thirty architectural locations across the globe. Not only have her textile designs been placed for a permanent collection at the Museum of Applied Arts in Lithuania and the Ministry of Culture in Moscow, Russia, her sizeable collection of miniatures and jewellery have travelled across countries such as the United States, Japan, Mauritius, the United Kingdom, Norway and Iceland, among others. Since entering international waters in 1982 with her first exhibition abroad, her textile designs have brought her to almost all continents of the globe.

“While I was born in 1959 when the walls of the Soviet Union still bordered Lithuanian artists from participating in the global world of arts, the crumbling union soon opened up opportunities that have brought me to countries from Germany to Mongolia, from Mexico to Japan. It was, however, not until 1994 that the technique I am most proud of was born – my personal technique of silk thread weaving,” says Danguole.

Danguole Brogiene’s grand jewel seems to be her personal silk weaving technique that has recently brought tremendous attention and success at the Philadelphia Museum of Art exhibition in the United States in November 2013.

She entered the world of silk textile design in 1994 when her interest to explore the qualities of silk thread led to the creation of her first silk thread weaving work. Her original technique of weaving silk and viscose threads has allowed her to create art that stands between modernity and subtle traditionalism – a striking balance that many artists find difficult to achieve.

While exploring the qualities of the silk and the historical applications of it to the arts, she has taken the old Egyptian chair weaving model and has applied it to the modern painting-like abstractions that intertwine influences from various artistic branches to create an elusive optic designs.

The technique involves weaving of silk and viscose threads on a sturdy Plexiglas basis. As the artist explains, “the technique of vertical and horizontal interwoven threads allows creating an effect of change.  While the technique has been known for centuries, the application of it is completely new and unique. With the beam of light directed at the work from different angles or from every distinct angle of glimpse at the work, the colours, or as a matter of fact the entire optic combination of design, transform.” Rarely a passerby contains his or her gasping excitement once they understand the uniqueness and transformability of such optic designs.

“Such characteristic of silk designs in my works is at the core of this unique technique,” says Danguole. “The abstract forms emerging from my works allow viewer to create a meaning for himself or herself whereas the possibility of change allows for every spectator to see their own impressions of life and art with every different look… I want my work to allow viewer to have an opportunity to have as much freedom as possible to create their own understanding of art and the transformability of my works allows experiencing exactly just that.”

She also explains that being a greatest asset and uniqueness in her work, the quality of change in her designs also makes it hard to capture her works in photography. “It is extremely difficult to capture my works in pictures. The artworks are rarely captured as a transforming experience – a characteristic that is at the core of my work – and instead, the silk works are mostly captured only as a ‘fact’,” she explains.

Her works are also a testimony of the complete patience, dexterity and concentration that are required from artists dealing with silk threads. Not only is every single thread that is used in her works dyed by the artist herself to create a unique combinations of colour shading, each thread is also prepared from ten or more interwoven micro threads to extract the vibrancy and delicacy of the colour spectrum.

What is even more spectacular is the hand-made approach in her works. No substances of assistance, such as glue, nots, pins or specific tightening appliances are used for the completion of parts of designs. As Danguole notes, “once you start working on the part of the design, you have to be in a complete state of concentration without distractions from the onset until the very end. If the thread loosens up before the completion, all work may start from the beginning.”

Danguole Brogiene elaborates further that the “best way to describe [her] art is through the exposition of various abstract forms that we encounter on a daily basis. Vibrancy and playfulness of the geometric forms is divided into one of the simplest geometric forms – the triangle. The composition of triangles vibrates from the darkest to the lightest colours in my works.” 

[Her] work aims to embolden the rhythm of composition that different materials create. It is a creative way of showing how material itself, as in this case the silk thread, can create a certain rhythm, contrast and harmony. Where others may see a simple thread, [Danguole] shows silk thread transformability, adaptation and creativity potential.” The artistic quality and multifunctionality of silk thread, which is shown through weaving techniques, is what makes her work stand out as a completely modern and new innovative way of looking at what silk threads can offer.

While some art commentators rush to label her works as a modern branch of art, Danguole mentions that her inspiration comes from the surroundings of the Lithuanian nature, the moments of her life as well as from the traditional folk art. “The names of the artworks and the inspiration to create certain experiences through dynamism and calmness, harmony and contrast, come from my wish to combine traditional folk themes of nature with modern application of silk…The original silk thread weaving technique opens up the beautiful vibrancy of silk, yet strikes a balance between modern art and traditional themes,” she explains.

According to her creative credo, her method is based on abstractions of different forms, analysis of rough surfaces and rhythm as well as texture of materials. In those materials she is searching for dynamics and tranquillity of colours, for the harmony and contrast in their interrelationship. Though at first sight her works may seem subtly simple, those compositions display a precise modelling and harmony of colour tones and a vibration of thin silk threads. The forms that are created are improvised Lithuanian ornaments reminiscent of soft sounds of songs from Dzukija.

The application and adaptation of the old Egyptian technique to a completely new field of art is undoubtedly one of the spectacular achievements of the artist who tapped into a field of unfettered opportunities of silk. The balance between modernity and traditionalism, harmony and contrast brings her to the forefront of the artists to watch on the international arena of art.  

For more information about Danguole’s works, please visit: http://brogiene.lt/en/

    Curators of exhibition Gabrielė Kuizinaitė, Panagiotis Zervas