Belkis Balpinar (1941 Eskisehir, Turkey) is a former curator, writer, researcher and educator specializing in Anatolian carpets and kilims who, since the 1980s, has created large woven artworks—in collaboration with a group of master weavers. She is a graduate of the Textile Department of Istanbul Fine Arts Academy, as well as a former curator at The Turkish and Islamic Museum in Istanbul.
Balpinar has been creating textile artworks for the last 25 years and her works have been shown internationally in prominent Art Collections including the World Bank, Al Gore and Muccia Prada’s collections. Her works are born from ancient Anatolian weaving techniques dating back to prehistoric times, brought into today’s contemporary to explore a wide range of themes from cosmology to climate change, thus serving as a way of bridging the old and the new. A pioneer of the “artkilim,” Balpinar’s uses the traditional kilim structure to create one-of-a-kind pieces that have been exhibited all around the world.
For her first UK exhibition, Red Sun was held at London’s 50 Golbornea, striking a display of seven artkilim wall hangings. The installation allows the audience to explore the history of Turkish textile weaving, as well as to reflect on themes including cosmology (Red Planet, 2011 and Red Sun, 2013), climate change (Global Un Warming, 2017) and transience (Time Plane, 2014). The central work in the exhibition, Red Sun from which the title of the show is derived. ‘extends the traditional shape of a circular rug into the space beyond its edge on one side, which brings a sense of movement to the piece.’ Global Unwarming, on the other hand, is more in line with the present and as its name suggests, speaks of an undoing of the current climate change crisis with a work that conjures a reflection on the threat this change bears on our existence.
Balpinar’s works highlight the importance of weaving as an age-old method of textile production, emphasizing the beauty and skillfulness of human hands to ‘underline how culture informs the reading of the bigger world around us, the relationship between the micro and macro.’
By viewing this historic process through a contemporary lens, the artist elucidates how connections between the past and the present speak to one another, whilst presenting new perspectives on a historic technique, in this case being the kilim-making.