Paul Klee, Carpet of memory, 1914, 193, Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern -
Paul Klee, Carpet of memory, 1914, 193, Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern
30.05.2009 - 30.08.2009

Paul Klee. Carpet of Memory

The third Orient exhibition titled Paul Klee. Carpet of Memory brings to an end the «Grand tour oriental» of the Zentrum Paul Klee, which leads through space and time.

The exhibition looks in greater depth at selected content-related and formal aspects of the oriental theme in Paul Klee’s works, with a focus on architecture, calligraphy and ornamentation together with the textile ornaments, the aspect of colour and the water-colour technique in Klee’s oeuvre. Beyond Klee's trip to Tunisia and Egypt in 1928, the exhibition explores specific aspects relating to his interest in the Arab and Muslim culture and how it is reflected in his works.

Under the impression of Moorish architecture, Paul Klee developed what he called his own «picture architecture». Certainly he was fascinated by the artistic aspects of the Moorish architecture, the narrow alleyways, the atmospheric silhouettes and similar features, but primarily he was interested in the geometric cubic structure of Moorish architecture and townscapes. Numerous sometimes completely abstract water-colours display fascinating parallels between townscape and the structure of the picture. Frequently buildings and landscape merge in Klee’s works in that the landscape is included into the picture architecture in a higher system.

Arab calligraphy, Sumerian cuneiform script as well as the old Egyptian hieroglyphs have inspired Klee to form his own hieroglyphic alphabet. Many of his works can be read as typefaces, the precise content and significance of which escape binding reading, however: As it were, the «image texts» reveal themselves to the viewer through an associative «reading matter». Paul Klee was fascinated by the ambiguous semiotics of oriental characters and their oscillation between abstract character and imagery. After all, Klee considered ornaments to have an inexhaustible potential for geometric design possibilities. In this sense, the decorative richness of oriental art was an orientating character for him. Klee used the additive «decorative» or «ornamental» in the titles of numerous works, a practice which was in defiance of avant-garde dogmas of abstraction.