Mergers and Acquisitions is a new body of work by artist Jonathan Ellery that turns the Japanese Tenugui into a politically charged artwork. A Tenugui is a piece of cloth, made from cotton to a traditional size and format, that is ubiquitous in Japanese daily life. Jonathan has designed a series of Tenugui that take the symbols of organisations and movements with clashing ideologies to create bizarre fabrics and alliances.
“The world we live in is really quite absurd,” says Jonathan. “I’m not so sure I agree with the phrase ‘red and green should never be seen’ as we see it all the bloody time”. The designs are monochrome and jarring. We see the UKIP logo surrounded by the stars of the EU, the Confederate flag and the Black Panther, and the motif of Golden Dawn merged with the logo of The Syrian Nationalist Party. The project is, in the words of the publishers Browns Editions (that Jonathan founded), “Ellery’s interpretation of the swirling political and religious world that surrounds us”.
Jonathan’s Tenugui have been produced using traditional ‘Chusen’ production techniques in Osaka, Japan. The method sees the cotton fabric dyed using stencil paper and resistant paste. The technique ensures that the pattern is visible on both sides of the Tenugui.
Each Tenugui is available in an edition of 100, and a 48-page soft back catalogue printed in the nationalistic colours of Jonathan’s home nation (red, white and blue) is being sold through Browns Editions. A fabric swatch of each of the seven Tenugui is bound into each catalogue.
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