An exploration of inspiration by Karola Pezarro

An exploration of inspiration by Karola Pezarro

Karola Pezarro trained at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, in the Department of Architectural Design and Environmental Design. We were introduced to her narrative textile art by flicking through the pages of Textile is Alive!

What really captured our imagination about Karola’s style was its delicacy and beauty. Each piece tells a story and has a history. We are delighted that she has let us into her world. Written exclusively for by Karola, the following piece is a poetic and insightful journey into some of the work she exhibited in her recent solo exhibition.

Elderberries (2012)
Karola Pezarro – Elderberries (2012) photoprint, embroidery, 150x60cm

The fragility of life

Until the end of the 1980s, I primarily made constructions with stacks of paper, textile folded into a variety of patterns, occasionally coloured. At the end of the 1980s, the exclusive concentration on the exploration of form, structure and the use of materials no longer sufficed. This artistic inquiry by means of very small steps was too far removed from my daily life and personal experiences. At the foundation of my work since then lies a strong sense of wonder about the fragility of life, wonder about the working of one’s memory, about the visible and the invisible. About how you remember your history, how you renew it and imagine it. These questions form the basic tones of my body of work. All of this is regularly conveyed by means of all kinds of elements that branch off from the whole. Sometimes, these are patterns that remind one of bloodstreams, but it could just as well be bundles of cables or city plans. Or other structures.

Without title (2009)
Karola Pezarro – Without title (2009) embroidery, 18×26 cm

Somewhere else

Somewhere else’ was the name of my last solo exhibition (Emmen, fall 2012). For this exhibition the Art Centre produced a small catalog. Each double page covered a theme of my work. Small texts and some images show my approach, resources and some thoughts. I’ll use the content of this catalog for walking you through some of my works and trying to explain the essence of them.

Around 15 years ago, I came to know a poem by Roberto Juarroz. This poem appealed to me and I managed to buy his bundle Vertical Poetry. I recognized myself in many other poems, in his wonder over the visible and invisible, in his search for what place you are occupying in the world, in the thought that you will only find something if you are looking for something else. ‘Somewhere else’, the title of the exhibition mentioned above, is derived from the poem “searching for one thing is always finding something else“. In the last lines Juarroz writes: “…you will always arrive, but somewhere else…“. This is almost a magic formula for me, a new formula to travel, in an organic way, different paths and worlds.

Au bord de l’eau (2012)
Karola Pezarro – Au bord de l’eau (2012) detail, mixed media

Au bord de l’eau

The work ‘Au bord de l’eau’ covers approximately five square metres and consists of embroidered silk bags with different content. The bags are hanging on the wall, roof tile, like seaweed on rocks by the sea. On these bags I embroidered texts about memories, time and places.

Small catalog: sitting by the sea, the sand feels dry and warm, I let it go through my fingers, find rings of shell, formerly cones, the sea has sanded them into shape, maybe by moving along the rocks here, I put them together, create a collection, the sea roars, no sounds, no man in sight, only sand, rings and a sea to the horizon.

The name and the country (2010)
Karola Pezarro – The name and the country (2010) nine pieces

The name and the country

February 2010 I visited Auschwitz. The tragic history of my family on my father’s side nagged at me. One month earlier I had been looking through photos from pre-war Indonesia with my mother. I noted her comments as we chatted. These two events necessitated me to create the work ‘The name (of my father) and the country (of my mother)’. Nine stacks of transparant silk textile hang on the wall. They contain hidden pictures and embroidered texts. Below each stack is a small board with an object. Towards the centre, the families of my mother and father meet.

Small catalog: between all those names was also the name I got from my father, written in different ways, aunt Ellie confirms the facts, we never talked about it at home, my mother tore pictures from her albums before she was interned, she enclosed them in a biscuit tin and gave that to a Chinese friend in custody, small black and white or sepia photos often with a serrated edge.

Between time embroidery
Karola Pezarro – Between time (2010) – Embroidery, 175x250cm

Between time

The work ‘Between time’ consists of small clouds of transparent stitching that have been pinned to the wall. Words have been embroidered on these supports: smile, talk with father, in control. Some of these cloudlets are connected to one another by a thin, light-grey piece of embroidery thread. Barely visible, these connections are extremely fragile.

Small catalog: a conversation with father, in my mind I walk with him through the streets of the city, the past is sometimes closer than recent times, an hour between two seconds, time stretching like elastic, trying to grab something I cannot catch, memories, connections, organizing connections as it was an electrical play.

Le cordon ombilical (2009)
Karola Pezarro – Le cordon ombilical (2009) photoprint, embroidery, 280x230cm

Le cordon ombilical

My daughter (Tize) was about to leave the house and my son (Niels) was a real adolescent. This situation made me very aware of the volatility and temporality of something that once seemed to last forever. I have embroidered a floating plant ‘Le cordon ombilical’ with leaves in which the faces of my children and I are included.

Small catalog: ‘cordon ombilical’ means umbilical cord, in literal and figurative sense, a mother and her children, tize, niels, myself, the time slipping away, just like that, I look behind my closed eyes, dream, thoughts fan out from my mind.

Fetus of the city (2009)
Karola Pezarro – Fetus of the city (2009) photoprint, embroidery, 20x27cm

Inner architecture

Besides drawing a lot, I’m always taking photos. I’m interested in architecture and the city, but nature also regularly crops up in my images. Since 2003 I have photographed parts of my hometown The Hague. I wandered through town, capturing specific details. I subsequently combine, draw, write and zoom in to such an extent that the process results in new images with alternate meanings. So I created the series ‘Inna architektura’ (2009).

Small catalog: in search of images I cross the city, freeze images in time, distil and discover hidden shapes, I create a small photo archive: the city, me and the image, a source for works about the city, inna architektura, I print, cut, embroider.

Somewhere else (2012)
Karola Pezarro – Somewhere else (2012) mixed media, embroidery

Somewhere else

In 2011 I made a journey through India. The colorful images and intense experiences inspired various works I made in the following year: ‘Somewhere else’.

Small catalog: on the go I bought a booklet with 30 colored felt dots, bindi, the decorative dot between the eyebrows, 6 x 5, 12×10, 24 x 20, 48×40, 96×80 … so many people, so many colored textiles everywhere, I think of long ago: blankets, lapping, layers, a cottage under the table, shelter, hidden lookout.

Bowls (2012)
Karola Pezarro – Bowls (2012) video in plaster bowls, 13 minutes


Since you can film with a photocamera I’ve been making very short films. I’m saving them in my computer in the folder: ‘pointless-time-movies’. Based on these short films I made the installation ‘Bowls’, a videowork projected in five bowls of plaster.

Small catalog: the bowls are filled, get color, water is flowing, dripping, an ink stain grows bigger, pigment fills the surface, hands are rubbing, stroking, paint the bowls red, yellow, hands putting objects in the bowls, pouring water, just acts of everyday life, or a ritual not known.

Studio (2012)
Karola Pezarro – Studio (2012)

New images

Often I work on several projects at the same time. I switch between them as it suits me. At the moment I’m starting up some new works: an embroidery in relation to the coronation of the new king, a new videowork as an adherent of ‘Bowls’ and on commission I will create a black and white structure of plastic bricks.

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Sunday 14th, July 2024 / 03:38

About the author

Sam is the co-founder of and son of textile artist Sue Stone. Connect with Sam on Google+c/a>

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