Josh Blackwell decorates vintage scarves and handkerchiefs, enlarging, extending and reconfiguring patterns according to their own creative impulses. Small pieces of painted paper or sometimes felt, are attached to the original fabric with dressmaking pins. These new elements feel as if they are temporary, mimicking the existing motifs such as cats, butterflies, flowers or swirls to produce textile double takes. The result is an interplay between the handmade and the mass produced, a pattern with hiccups or optical wormholes.
The recycled fabrics selected are typically antique. Their elegant designs convey the optimism of an era that belongs to designers and artists such as Elsa Schiaparelli and Florine Stettheimer.
Formally, the work references painterly traditions of object and ground, surface and pictorial space; beyond that they are more ambiguous. These adaptations are mischievous manipulations, the utility of the object is transgressed and the divide between art and design fades.
Josh Blackwell born 1972, lives and works in Los Angeles