We Didn’t Think Kilims Could Get Any Cooler… Until Now
Iranian artist Taher Asad Bakhtiari may be a Raf Simons–wearing, Swiss-educated jetsetter — he lives between Tehran and Dubai — but growing up, he was inundated with local tradition. His father came from an influential tribal family, his aunt was a famous craft-based artist, and dealers showed up at his house perpetually peddling suitcases full of tribal objects. So as his artistic practice developed in adulthood he, like many of his peers in the past decade, decided to turn his attention to helping support and modernize the ancient crafts that were among his most formative influences: He works with semi-nomadic Iranian weavers to create contemporary, geometric updates on traditional kilim and gabbeh rugs. His latest series, pictured here, is on view in The Pond House, a solo show of his textiles that just opened at Carwan Gallery in Beirut.
The gallery writes: “The Pond House is an indoor atrium with fountain central to traditional Iranian architecture, which serves as a cooling chamber during the hot summer months. It is a space ringing of flowing water where guests are invited to lounge in a contemplative atmosphere. Asad-Bakhtiari was inspired by the Pond House of his old family residence in Tehran to create a unique collection of modern-day tribal tapestries … Woven by semi-nomadic tribal women using entirely naturally-dyed, hand-spun wool, each piece can require up to four months to create, depending on size. Unlike the traditional Iranian carpet, Iranian tribal weaves display quite simple patterns, because tribal people weave what they see: the sky, the mountains, the earth, the animals. Often-times, the individual elements of earth, sky, sun, mountain are expressed as single blocks of color, giving life to a raw, condensed and very impactful conceptual vision of the natural world.
“Inspired by the power of this puritan philosophy, Asad-Bakhtiari imagines a process to further strip the tribal weave to its bare elements, starting with the weaving process itself. A set of vertical threads (the warp) form the backbone on which all weaves are woven; kilims are produced by interweaving horizontal threads, while gabbehs are produced by tying pieces of wool around the warp and cutting their loose ends. Asad-Bakhtiari’s innovation comes from exposing parts of the warp, revealing the skeleton of the carpet and bringing it into the overall design.” Check out the rest of Asad-Bakhtiari’s work here.