Thank you Fort Wayne Museum of Art for acquiring my large-scale tapestry Semele for the permanent collection of the museum. I’m thrilled that Semele will hold a place in the museum’s collection and inspire future generations.
80.7 x 126 inches (205 cm x 320 cm)
Handwoven wool tapestry
Taller Mexicano de Gobelinos
Pedro Ibarra Cazares (aka Solin)
Pedro Ibarra Hernandez
Excerpts from “Chthoneon, The Art of Chuck Sperry” — Buy Chthoneon Here
I. The Tapestries
I was naturally drawn to realize my work in tapestry because the medium’s many resonances to my production methods, subject matter and themes. It’s archival permanence also appealed to my aim to seek a balance with the ephemerality of my work on paper.
Historically tapestries have dealt with mythological themes, some of the earliest tapestries being whimsical depictions of Ovid’s Metamorphosis for the titillation of noble classes. I felt it would be interesting to re-envision these same themes in tapestry, reclaiming the divine feminine in a self-empowering way, for a classless milieu that underscores equality and democratic principles. In the 19th Century, William Morris, who championed “Art For All”—an appeal to the “makers” and their democratization of the arts —re-invigorated the ancient art of tapestry, lending me yet another reason to seek out this medium to express my work.
Having encountered the striking beauty of Damián Ortega’s tapestry “Microchip IV” at the Mexican gallery Kurimanzutto at Art Basel in December 2017, I reached out to this tapestry’s producer Jaime Ashida, director of Taller Mexicano de Gobelinos, in early January of 2018 to pursue the realization of two triptychs: Graces and Thesmophoria.
I was attracted by Taller Mexicano de Gobelinos’ use of metallics and the subtle shadings of color apparent in the Ortega tapestry. I intuited that this workshop would take great care to realize my subtle textures, transparencies and uses of metallic patterns. As our discourse unfolded I was struck by the depth of understanding and deep commitment that developed between us in the production of these absolutely masterful tapestries: there is a magic that was stirred from the depths of human compassion and belief.
What has been created in the first year of our joyful collaboration is two-thirds of Graces (Thalia and Semele) and one-third of Thesmophoria (Demeter). Working with the master dyers, weavers, and stitchers of the Taller Mexicano de Gobelinos directed by Jaime Ashida has been a wonderful dream come true.
— Chuck Sperry
II. The Process of Making…
In June of 2018, I visited Taller Mexicano de Gobelinos in Guadalajara, Mexico with photographer Shaun Roberts. I wanted to meet Jaime and the Taller team to celebrate the completion of our work together for my museum solo “All Access” at Fort Wayne Museum of Art. I wanted to see these beautiful tapestries in person (each in various stages of finish), meet the makers, raise a glass, break bread, and bring Shaun to document the colors and textures of Taller Mexicano de Gobelinos in a series of photographs. What follows is Shaun Roberts’ photographic exposé of the mastery and care in the many stages of the intricate, time-consuming, age-old tapestry making process.
— Chuck Sperry
III. Voices of The Workshop: A Triptych
Voice 1: “Chuck managed to decipher the capacity of representation and the possibilities of the particular technique of this tapestry workshop. He observed the textures and colors of the tapestries. The colors, in textiles of the kind, are tactile: it is wool and metallic thread, each color consists of three strands of different shades. I imagine that Chuck must have made an association with the textures achieved in screen printing when it is also combined with acrylic paint and mineral pigments, for example. He talked about the depth of colors, about transparencies, that there is no absolute solid colors, and that there is always a kind of unexpected alchemy taking place. The use of the three different strands for each tone, plus the metallic strands, achieved a richer palette that was evident in the textile translated triptych.
“In collaborative relationships with artists, I like to find those who go as far as possible in the use of the technique and its historical dimension.”
Voice 2: “When I first saw the design of what I would have to weave, I worried a little because I had never done something like that before. I noticed that the metallic finishing was working well and I got excited: it looked amazing! The feeling of tightness in the weaving was palpable, when adding the metal to the mixture of colored wool threads, it hardens and fits naturally in the fabric, that is to say: it helps. The experiment turned out very well and I am proud to have passed the test.”
Voice 3: “The women on the triptych look powerful and full of life, Goddess Creators. They reminded me of the representation of an Amazonian female deity: plenty of bright colors and surrounded by nature under her command to pursue the sake of her people and common causes. We chatted with Chuck about the mythic inversion of stories about female deities and how these goddesses were stripped of many of their attributes in the classic accounts of fundamental myths. Chuck seeks to tell those stories differently, depicting divine and powerful women within his oeuvre. When we said goodbye, the last thing he said was: keep fighting the power.”
— Taller Mexicano de Gobelinos
American artist Chuck Sperry is known for his ethereal and psychedelically saturated screen prints that draw crowds of dedicated fans around the world. He draws inspiration from graffiti, pop art, Symbolism, Art Nouveau and ukiyo-e.
Moving past his early work devoted to subverting the memes of advertising, trash-culture, and comics — he currently imagines a verdant garden of new work tended by his signature shimmering muses, calling this work a “utopian provocation.”
He has been exhibited throughout The United States and internationally for 25 years, including solo shows in New York, London, Paris, Milan, Rome, Athens, Berlin, Zurich, Geneva, Buenos Aires, Miami, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
His work has been featured via the Arte Channel, New York Times, Le Parisien, The Guardian (UK), Corriere della Sera, La Repubblica, The Huffington Post, RollingStone, Spin, Architectural Digest, and many more.
He currently lives in San Francisco, California.