KAFFE FASSETT at the Textile Museum of Canada (55 Centre), to October 21. $10, stu/srs $6, Wednesday 5-8 pm pwyc. 416-599-5321. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
The popularity of trippy op art textiles in 1960s fashion was short-lived, I'm told, because the bright colours and abstract shapes made people look fat.
A fabric designer during that era for legendary textile manufacturer Missoni, Kaffe Fassett has never strayed far from that bold look. A knitter/needlepointer's Martha Stewart, he's published numerous how-to books, and the American textile stylist stitches a mean quilt, scouring older cultures for new inspiration.
To celebrate its 30th anniversary, the Textile Museum shows a series of his playful patchwork quilts.
Many of them were actually made by his sister and others. They're fabulously well made, but more interesting are the relatively crude pieces hand - sewn by the artist himself. Working without a plan, Fassett opts for loose rather than tight stitches, and frayed edges rather than traditional turned-under ones.
Toile Bricks mixes rectangular strips of floral prints with a Victorian garden scene in a rusty red, pink, green and mauve with a splash of yellow. The quilting spreads likes wavy rays from the centre, creating subtle depths.
In Folk Art Quilt, Fassett copies a pattern from London's Victoria and Albert Museum. Many of the appliqué shapes are just shy of trite, like teapots, roosters and pineapples, but his wild materials add a twist.
Wedding Quilt, whose palette pales next to the other works, ribs Martha Stewart by mimicking her palette of soft, creamy colours.
In meandering quilts that resemble enormous rail yards gone wrong, the play between the arrangements of shapes and prints is mesmerizing.
The quilts show Fassett's influences in op art, abstract impressionism and kitsch.