House of Jim Jarmusch, 2009, 170 x 86 cm

Nature - Movement - Shape

About Helga Höhne's carpets

During an intense period of searching for a means to adequately express myself, a piece of woven material at a friend's place caught my eye. The piece consisted of strips of tough cloth braided together, and it was its somewhat rustic character that aroused my interest. I decided to build a simple loom and soon began to work with strips of textile material. This was in 1984 and I've been making carpets ever since."
Prior to that Helga Höhne, who was born in Zwickau in 1949, had not worked as an artist. However, her artistic sensibility had been fine tuned during the years she spent running an art gallery and being part of the inner circle around the Berlin painters Christa and Lothar Böhme.Thus more than 100 carpets of outstanding artistry and unique character have been created - a result of an admirable commitment to her craft considering the ongoing demands of bread-and-butter-work. In 1991 the artist was asked to join the head organisaton of visual artists, Verband Bildender Künstler, (VBK) and in 1993 Helga Höhne held her first solo-show at the Galerie am Prater in Berlin.
What then constitutes the particular qualities of Höhne's works?
Works which consist of pieces of fabric, deliberately chosen because of their prior usage and/or then being manipulated by her before being woven into something she refers to as "woven sketches - lived sketches".
I believe the pieces of this Berlin artist live by a very unique rhythm: These textile landscapes are vibrating throughout and seem to be guided by an inate sense of clarity, creating its own order. Helga Höhne's pieces are not merely decorative. Energy is mounting from deep within each work, line by line, as fields of color are created by the interwoven strips of cloth. The details breathe movement to the point of disquiet.
The works seem to be rebelling against the very sense of a fixed structure much like waves breaking continuously against the shore.

Part of this ongoing ebb and flow, this breaking up and connecting has been carried into the picturesque carpets of Helga Höhne. It is the pulsing rhythm of nature itself that has found its expression here. "To remain open towards new ideas - however strange they might seem (...). To follow nature.", the artist wrote in 1994. Thus panels of color were created that exude a firm sense of calm, yet never cease to intrigue the viewer's imagination.

This impression of movement is due, above all, to the visual tension that builds between areas of almost geometrical symmetry and others that are free flowing. The subtle movement of focus stems from a playful interchange between form and base. Last but not least it is each formal element, which combined with almost graphic markings that uniquely creates such a lively effect.

These colourful weavings appear to have been influenced by other cultures, like those of the middle east.They are visual expressions of the very essence of nature and life itself, of which we the audience, are part of ourselves. The artworks of Helga Höhne also lend form to the nameless quality, which the Bauhaus-master, Georg Muche feels, lies at the source of creativity and rises to the surface during the process of making a piece of art.

Fritz Jacobi, National Gallery Berlin
(Article in "Textilkunst" 1/1997)
Translation by Bettina Femers