When you have spent the past 25 years setting up an internationally successful brand that has changed the direction of contemporary rug design, what do you choose to do next? For Jan Kath, whose eponymous rug company set about a rug revolution several years back and which is having a fantastic year in 2022, the answer is to do something to please oneself, to make art.
Kath’s Rug Bombs exhibition is currently on in at the Alte Brüderkirche church in Kassel until 25 September, running alongside art event Documenta Fifteen in the city. The eleven hand-knotted artworks on show make up the first chapter of Kath’s new project, which he is clear to point out is not part of the Jan Kath Design brand, but rather his own private artwork for which has set up a separate small team in Nepal and India. For this Rug Bomb chapter, he is working with Galerie Droste. ‘I am planning on not mixing up my appearances as an “artist” with what we do as a design company,’ explains Kath.
The beautiful Rug Bomb rugs depict harrowing scenes of war, from tanks, warships and fighter jets to displaced people and refugees. All these pieces are hand-knotted in wool and silk. Patterns from old Bijar, Tabriz or Serapi rugs create shapes on many of the compositions and remind us what medium this is. For those of us that know the language, Afghan war rugs are an obvious connection to make and something that Kath’s father used to collect. ‘In the 80s I saw these war rugs,’ he says. ‘At that time they depicted Soviet weaponry, but the latest generation of rugs clearly show what happened over the past ten years. The narrative of a rug is also shaped by the person who made it or for whom it was made. I feel deeply connected to this tradition and see myself as an active part of it.’
See the full article in COVER 68, out in mid-August.