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Textile Designers Take Note: Big Batik Exhibition in Hawaii

by Susi, 15 August 2008

Detail of batik cloth from Lasem, Java, in the Christensen Fund\'s collection.

Lush, crisp, sophisticated, graphic, earthy, arresting. Antique batik at its highest levels has much to offer contemporary textile designers. Far more than one would think based on the banal repertoire of tourist batiks which are the most frequently seen examples outside of Indonesia. Visit the Honolulu Academy of Art between now and 5 October to see Indonesian Batik from the Christensen Fund for yourself. What an exhibition. Inspirations abound.

In 2001 The Christiansen Fund gave the Academy more that 1,600 textiles, most from Indonesia, and most collected for the fund by the best eye in Indonesia for textile art, a reclusive gentleman who chooses to remain anonymous, and still lives in Bali, Los Angeles and Heidelberg, harbouring rich memories of his time travelling the Indonesian archipelago collecting textile art in the 1970s, before anyone else had fully recognised the aesthetic importance of these works. 

The Christensen Fund’s collection is probably the most important collection of Indonesian textiles in the world, bar none, and much of it remains as yet unexhibited and unpublished. Now 300 outstanding batik textiles from the Fund’s acquisitions are on show at the Honolulu Academy, and just a quick saunter through the show will open your eyes and surprise you. Batik is much more than most people have yet imagined, and this collection proves it.

Batik is really not about tourist sarongs. So get wise to the exquisite beauty of this extraordinary form of textile art at the highest level. Visit the Honolulu show and be dazzled, be inspired.

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