Arkitektura Assembly: Bringing together the world of Design
Edith Hillinger was born in Berlin, Germany, and spent her formative years in Turkey. She came to the United States as a young adult.
The living room of the old wooden house on the outskirts of Istanbul was a time capsule of our past and current life and it was the incubator of the artist I was to become. Sitting on the newly acquired, richly patterned Turkish carpets, I was surrounded by the spare Bauhaus furniture from the land we had just fled. The glass front book case housed the inherited Japanese treasures; paper fans with gold decorations, lacquer boxes, opium pipes with tortoise stems, paper toys. On the wall hung a Japanese scroll depicting bamboo and a bird.
I was attracted to these objects and spent a lot of my time playing in the living room. I did not know it at the time, but seeing the spare, geometric forms of the Bauhaus furniture and weavings against the calligraphic and tribal forms was building my vocabulary as an artist.
What brought this all back for me in a way that I could then work with, was a very small photograph I took of a high window in the Alhambra, in Spain. The window was pierced and ornate in the style of Moorish architecture. I drew these patterns with a Japanese brush pen on Gampi paper. The pattern was that of a pierced window, but it also reminded me of the weave of a burka and the lattice covered windows of the women’s quarters I saw as a child in Istanbul.
As I draw, and later as I cut the drawings apart and reassemble them, one pattern meanders into the next and memories rise to the surface again: I remember sitting next to my father, an architect, as he drew the plans for buildings in strong black India ink lines. When I was a little older, I was given a pen and tried my hand at drawing straight black lines in ink. My drawings now incorporate architectural notations for stairs, bricks, flooring materials etc. expressing my love for the small visual notations in architectural dictionaries.
Blank Gampi paper is set off against line drawings, brush paintings, oil stick and acrylic. The patina of age and decay rubs up against the new, not yet embellished, and barely envisioned – as Berlin contrasted with Istanbul in the 1930’s.
In my mid-teens we left Istanbul and moved to New York. Daily life unfolded once again in an unfamiliar environment. The work brings together all I have gathered from these very different cultures and the circumstances of my personal life and restores once severed connections.
Edith Hillinger is represented by Lonnie Lee, Vessel Gallery.