Dilyara Kaipova

1967 | Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Uzbekistani textile artist.

Dilyara Kaipova’s practice synthesises visual art techniques with technologies of fabric production and textile craft. D. Kaipova is a graduate of Tashkent’s Republic Art College (1986-1990). The 1990s and 2000s were the beginning of her long-term engagement with theatre work as a scenographer, as well as a puppet designer and maker. During this period D. Kaipova also pursued painting, launching her artistic career in 2001 with an exhibition of pastels at Ilkhom Theatre, founded by Mark Weil in Tashkent. From the second half of the 2010s onwards, D. Kaipova’s practice has been focused on fabric and textile as a central medium of artistic articulation. In 2016 she presented her acclaimed project Kapitan Ikat [Captain Ikat] at the International Exhibition of Contemporary Art in Tashkent: a collection of robes – Uzbek chapans or khalats – sewn from ikat (abr) fabric specially created by the artist and made in collaboration with weavers in Margilan. (In 2022 the World Crafts Council named it World City of Silk and Ikat Artisans.) 

D. Kaipova’s signature practice involves the exploration and innovative reconceptualisation of traditional forms of Uzbek material culture – patterns and fabrics – via the lens of the present, and modern popular culture specifically. The artist’s work integrates the iconography of mass culture – for example, images of cotton flowers (pakhta) or Adidas, Yuri Gagarin or Darth Vader, and many others – into the texture of the fabric to create a playful form of national expression. Herein lies the uniqueness of the artist’s approach: for D. Kaipova, fabric, woven or printed, is the object and subject of artistic practice, while the form this fabric might take – such as a robe (chapan or khalat), a jacket (telogreika), an embroidered textile panel (suzani) and so on – is instrumental to making the fabric communicate its multi-layered meaning.

D. Kaipova’s artistic synthesis of artisan textile technology with the imagery of mass culture of late Soviet and capitalist modernity brings up the question of history, its material and therefore political and ideological constitution: How do we understand history through fabrics and textiles? How do fabrics and textiles inform and shape our understanding of the present? These questions stem from the particular context of contemporary Central Asia, where the hegemony of national culture in situ is mirrored in the world domination of the capitalist system and vice versa, thus bringing to the fore the contradictory meaning of the Soviet project for the present. D. Kaipova’s artistic practice has thus an explicit exploratory character: the artist is known internationally for her lectures and workshops focusing on the technology and history of Uzbek fabrics and textiles.

D. Kaipova’s works are in the collections of Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University, New York; Mardjani Foundation, Moscow; MARKK Museum, Hamburg; Fine Arts Gallery of Uzbekistan, Tashkent; RISD Museum, Rhode Island; Royal Ontario Museum; State Silk Museum, Tbilisi; Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam; George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum, Washington, DC; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Natalya Antonova

A notice produced as part of the TEAM international academic network: Teaching, E-learning, Agency and Mentoring

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