I thought I’d begin by writing a little bit about an exhibition I visited last year that uplifted me and filled me with inspiration.
It was an exhibition held at the rather wonderful art gallery in Manchester, that is, The Whitworth. Prior to stumbling upon the exhibition, I had not heard of the name Tibor Reich or was familiar with his work (at least consciously). It was a marvellous discovery.
Held between 29th January – August 2016, the exhibition was described by the Whitworth as
‘a retrospective celebrating the centenary of Tibor Reich, a pioneering post-war textile designer, who brought modernity into British textiles.’
I was struck by Tibor’s bright, textured, abstract fabric designs. He was considered, a virtuoso colourist, introducting new shades such as Kingfisher Blue, Sunshine Yellow and Siamese Pink.
Their true impact could be appreciated in the gallery, where they were displayed on long runs of fabric running from floor to ceiling, it felt like these designs needed to be seen on a large scale.
The abstract prints, reflected a new trend in mid-century modern fabric design for abstracted, distorted and attenuated forms.
But Tibor was an innovator, by fusing together his love of photography with a keen eye for observing nature, he developed a new approach to developing pattern. The design process became known as ‘Fotexur’ and involved making positive and negative screen prints from parts of photographs. The prints would then be rearranged and manipulated to the designer’s own conception of harmony, balance and flow. The result could be described as a’virtual texture’ and the technique was considered to be ‘revolutionary’.
The following short 1957 film by Pathe, provides a charming insight into the pre-digital design process.
“ the loveliness of nature lies where you find it, in every river, in every tree…..
…..Tibor recaptures this charm and adds to it a touch of mans ingenuity to produce something unique in modern design…….
….he does not copy nature but interprets its rhythm, light and shade and adds to it ideas of his own…..
…..when you ally the wonders of nature with the ingenuity of man you can assure you’ve got something worth looking at.”