The patterns and hand-worked details of Julia Bland’s five painted tapestries—or woven paintings—on view in “If You Want to Be Free” absorb and transfix. The flashing, jagged spaces of the large-scale abstract works provide a trove of detailed delights for the eye. Partly expanding the traditional painting medium and partly recalling Eastern mystic traditions, the complex geometric pieces draw from a Sufi belief that weaving is a powerful, magic-infused act, as well as the Muslim sentiment that repetition invokes a meditative communion with god. These influences imbue the paintings with a rarely-seen spirituality, not to mention technical artistry.
Pictured: Julia Bland: Noon Ashes, 2014, linen, wool and oil paint, 87 by 88 inches. Courtesy On Stellar Rays, New York. Photo Adam Reich.