The sublime skies and landscape of Malta—the island nation in the Mediterranean Sea between Sicily and North Africa—are represented in Choudhary Export’s new hand-knotted rug collection in collaboration with Malta-based designer Keith Pillow, Founder and Creative Director of DAAA Haus. The rugs in Choudhary’s limited-edition Convergence collection are based on works by Maltese expressionist painter James Vella Clark whose February 2019 exhibition of the same name revealed the paintings that inspired the 8-month collaboration.
Choudhary and Pillow’s process to create the collection bears similarity to translating a book. Knowing how to select the right word or how to adapt a colloquialism into another language relies not only on skill and knowledge, but on poetics and artistry. Vella Clark’s layered vision and slipstreams of colour are expertly translated in hand-knotted wool and silk. The light reflecting quality of silk was an inspired fibre choice that suits Vella Clark’s painterly pursuit to ‘generate my very own sources of light’. The Convergence Collection explores how to capture light, but it also reveals the process of capturing the intrinsic properties of Vella Clark’s paintings through an extrinsic property—the meticulous creation of the weaving graph or cartoon.
Choudhary Exports’ Managing Partner Ayush Choudhary describes the collection as having ‘metamorphic intent’. The concept of metamorphosis or ‘transformation’ is particularly apt in 2020 as products for the home increasingly move towards objects that are figuratively or literally metamorphic. The 18th-century chair that shifts into library steps or the sofa that opens into a bed are both examples of literal metamorphic design. Adapting the concept to rug designs created an opportunity for Choudhary and Pillow to puzzle out how design, colours, fibres, and weave could literally and figuratively translate Vella Clark’s paintings.
Vella Clark’s devotion to light is evident. Each rug in the collection is adapted from one of his light-filled abstract paintings: Mediterranean Landscape, Tuileries, Indecision and Yellow Light II. Tuileries is a round rug inspired by Vella Clark’s visit to Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris to see Monet’s Water Lilies cycle. The rug resembles a circle of sky viewed through an ocular vault, while colour and weave elevate its tints of blue, sun-bleached whites, and limestone grey cloud banks. The intent is homage to Monet, but it also reflects the sky above Fawwara, Malta—one of Vella Clark’s favourite places.
Interviewed for the opening of his 2019 Convergence exhibition, Vella Clark remarked on his growing comfort in ‘testing the limits of how abstract these same landscapes could become, whilst remaining faithful to what I wanted to say’. The same can be said of the collaboration that created the rug collection. Choudhary Exports and DAAA Haus tested the limits of cartoon, colour, and weave to create a faithful yet exhilarating interpretation of the paintings of James Vella Clark.
Subject to ongoing changes to the international COVID-19 situation, the Convergence Collection (with two new rugs planned for the collection) will launch in Malta September 2020 and at Imm Cologne January 2021.