An exhibition consisting entirely of large-scale tapestries, which recreate popular imagery from Kukula’s exquisitely detailed paintings. Kukula’s paintings center on feminine, doll-like figures, often surrounded by objects with sometimes clear, sometimes obscure symbolic meaning. The work registers the influences of both classical European art forms and contemporary pop culture. In her figures’ poses Kukula recalls traditional portraiture, yet the style is manifestly modern and pop-influenced. Kukula’s compositions thereby disclose her personal struggles as mediated by a rich multicultural heritage.
Historically tapestries were made by hand, many times by monks who were glorifying a heroic, religious or mythological story. They were made mostly to decorate churches or the nobility’s quarters. They were extremely expensive, even priceless, and often very large in order, I believe, to create power over the viewer.
As a creator of things that go on walls, tapestries excite me as much, if not even more, than viewing an original painting by one of my favorite artists. The power of a tapestry comes across uniquely by being in its presence. The experience does not translate to print nearly as well as with a painting. Tapestries shock. You think of the long strands of thread woven on a very large loom. The planning alone seems overwhelming.
But we are not living in a world dominated by the Church and nobility. Fans of art come in many shapes and sizes. And even if it were possible to create those divine tapestries today, such as the famous “Unicorn in Captivity” now at the Cloisters in New York, very few people would be able to enjoy them in their own homes. I like to enjoy things in my own home. I like having stuff, and I want tapestries, too. That was how I felt when I visited the Vatican.
I call my art Neo-Rococo because I draw inspiration from the last period of the French aristocracy. As a matter of fact, not only in art, but in life, I give it my own post-modern twist. Be gluttonous, be fancy, but don’t be too rich that you can’t sleep at night. We all have the opportunity to taste glamour. We have machines; we don’t have slaves. Or, as Oscar Wilde put it, “on the slavery of the machine the future of the world depends.” We can produce replicas inspired by the Roman Catholic Church and put them in our bedrooms without ruining anyone’s life. This is elitism for all. – Kukula
Kukula was born in a relatively isolated village about an hour north of Tel Aviv. Her few neighbors were mostly retirees, many of them Holocaust survivors. Her childhood imagination was nourished by equal parts princess fantasies and World War II horror stories. Thus the attempt to reconcile real life horror with fantasy life sweetness emerges as a central theme in her work. After receiving her degree in illustration in 2003 from Vital-Shenkar, Kukula moved to the U.S., where she lives now.