TE-21 (short for Tessellated Expression for the 21st century), a
new exhibiting group, was launched in Chartres, France, on 25 October
2008 by four mosaic artists, each internationally recognised. They
M. Goodwin (England), Dugald
MacInnes (Scotland), Lucio
Orsoni (Italy) and Toyoharu
The launch took place under the aegis of the Association Les 3R,
which organises the biennial Rencontres Internationales de la Mosaique
The opening Presentation was given by Elaine M. Goodwin. Then Dugald
MacInnes and Lucio Orsoni spoke animatedly of proposals for future
exhibitions. Lucio Orsoni is giving positive support in arranging
an Extravaganza exhibition in Cannaregio, Venice, with Pino Bisazza
– dates have yet to be arranged but keep an eye on the Mosaic
Matters Exhibition Diary...
The texts of three Presentations follow.
Elaine M Goodwin – What is TE-21?
is TE-21? It is a new art movement created solely to give established
professional artists of personally expressed mosaic the possibility
of exhibiting together – internationally. We hope that what
we have formed is an exciting opportunity for artists working in
an otherwise marginalised facet of mosaic.
At present we, the progenitors, are the first four founder members
– myself (from England), Toyoharu Kii (from Japan), Dugald
MacInnes (from Scotland) and Lucio Orsoni (from Venice) –
four very diverse artists from four different countries but with
one singular and exclusive aim. As this aim becomes more established,
we wish to entice like-minded artists to join us, thus building
up a core of artists worldwide who use mosaic solely as their means
of self expression, i.e. where the content or voice of the work
Touché, 2008, by EMG
We are well aware that self expression is a minority aspect of mosaic,
yet we are driven to create this new movement as we become ever
more aware that mosaic is still not considered a worthy medium for
addition to National Art Collections. For example, there is no contemporary
mosaic work in the Tate Gallery in London. The Curator, Sir Nicholas
Serota, has responded to any correspondence by continually saying
that mosaic belongs to the Victoria and Albert Museum, an excellent
museum in London but for the applied and decorative arts only.
Is mosaic ever to be accepted as a fine art medium? Of course aspects
of mosaic do, and must, belong with the decorative arts, but one
specific aspect of the medium, which is ignored or largely unexplored,
belongs also to National Art Galleries and Collections. The example
from England which I have just given is but one of many instances
of a Curator of a leading National Modern Art Collection having
a blinkered vision as to the full potential of the mosaic medium.
MOSAIC is not recognized as a serious art form, and this is a lamentable
One crucial element has not helped this predicament.
The very word 'mosaic' conjures up for many people a preconditioned
understanding of the medium – that is, one which they recognize
as either functional, utilitarian, decorative or having a religious
content. Aware of this preconditioning, we – as a group –
have deliberately dropped the word 'mosaic' from the movement's
name. TE-21 stands for Tessellated Expression for the 21st Century
– which fortunately translates well into French and Italian.
We are indeed grateful to Chartres as a city with the foresight
to have initiated an International Collection of contemporary works
of personal expression, in the spirit of an enlightened Fine Art
collector. This vision for the medium can be doubly witnessed today,
both by the present exhibition of the city's founding works here
at the Galerie Chapelle St Eman; and by the very fact that we have
been invited to give launching papers to this symposium!
I would like to expand a little more on what we mean by using the
medium of mosaic for self expression. I know many of you, familiar
with the many facets of mosaic, will be all too well aware of what
I mean, but for clarity please allow me to elaborate.
The creation of such a work is primarily concerned with concepts
– with conveying deeply felt emotions or closely perceived
ideas, and creating a work of art not through painterly or sculptural
media, but through the unique materials to be found in the timeless
medium of mosaic. The long lineage from which we all work is universally
acknowledged to be rich and wondrous – but we must attach
equal cultural importance to the expressive present period for mosaic.
So, each artist in the movement must have a profoundly-developed
passion for mosaic, individually expressed through an established
'voice', i.e. a recognizable working style, where each can explore
their realm of being through abstraction. By coming together and
by creating a unified front, we feel we can form a strong and diverse
force to fully re-present the medium.
Thus, to sum up, we have but one simple aim – to join together
to present international mosaic exhibitions solely pursuing personal
expression, and with crystal clarity to divorce mosaic from the
ornamental and the functional and to establish a cerebral and visual
genus for the medium as a potent one for contemporary expression.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to
the city of Chartres, in particular to Patrick Maquaire and his
colleagues, for once again organising magnificent exhibitions in
such beautiful venues. Chartres is indeed becoming synonymous with
international mosaic and it is a most fitting venue for the launch
of TE-21. Gratitude also goes to Chartres for providing a platform
for Elaine, Kii, Lucio and myself to speak today about TE-21, the
reasoning behind its conception and its hopes for the future.
Elaine has very succinctly defined TE-21, established the reasons
for the creation of the movement and firmly laid out the criteria
for TE-21 artists. TE-21 is not an elitist movement. It is merely
an avenue through which, as Elaine has clearly stated, to give established
professional artists who are working in an expressive manner the
opportunity to exhibit together. That is all TE-21 purports to be.
We are not in any way elevating our art above that of other practitioners.
Earth Two, 2008, by DM
TE-21 is not a movement born out of hot-headed youthfulness. The
four of us are far too long in the tooth for such actions. There
are no Marinettis setting out to throw away the art of the past
and change the world! The movement, rather, has been born from considered
and thoughtful responses to the simple fact that there is a desire
for those expressive artists who are working in the wider body of
the mosaic world to have a distinctive voice.
It has taken time to reach where we are today. Just over three years
ago, although it now seems a longer age away, Elaine, Robert Field,
my wife Anne and I sat around an outdoor table of a Glasgow restaurant
discussing the issue of the relatively small band of mosaic artists
with an expressive bent and how best to present the work of such
artists. At this Glasgow venue the title TE-21, Tessellated Expression
for the 21st Century, was born and the name, written down for the
very first time, was committed onto a white napkin.
Where do we go from here? We do wish for other artists to join with
us. There is, however, no manifesto, no committee, nor is there
a selection of criteria for the inclusion of other artists, and
definitely no desire for interminable meetings.
What do we ask of the TE-21 artists? Do we ask for integrity or
deeply-felt emotional responses to a particular context? Or an awareness
of the development of modern art? Or a long involvement in art?
Or that the artists hold true to their art? Or do we ask for all
of these things?
There is no clear answer, and perhaps there never will be. If
we seem more than a little vague with regard to expansion of TE-21
then this is possibly deliberate. Many of you here may have witnessed
the rise and fall of the well-intended group or movement where its
aims have been subsumed in a mire of bureaucracy.
We do plan our first full exhibition in Venice in the near future,
and perhaps after that – and following any reaction to the
show – we can think about next steps. In the meantime we welcome
comments, suggestions and any questions that you may have. Thank
Toyoharu Kii (read in absentia by Sir Patrick Macquaire
of the Association Les 3R. Kii is one of Japan's leading mosaic
artists. He has had a long experience in producing mosaic murals.)
states: "The main theme of mosaic is to think of it as a language
of expression. This must be the theme for all TE-21 artists.
"Similar, perhaps, to most other artists of mosaic, I consider
the main feature of mosaics to be the use of tesserae. The size,
height and the form of tesserae, coupled with the width of grout
line, are the elements that, for me, define the features of mosaic
art. These features have the greatest visual impact when only one
colour of material is used. This is the very strict, but personal
regime I have been working under for more than ten years. Recently,
however, I have been extending my exploration of mosaic by introducing
more colours. I have experimented this way by making "tableaux"
[portable pieces]. This recent work will be reflected in future
mosaic murals of mine.
Good morning Japan, 2008 by TK
"Unfortunately mosaic murals have gone out of fashion in Japan.
It would appear that architects no longer wish to introduce mosaic
into their architecture. However, I do not think that the role of
mosaic in architecture is finished yet...."
Turquoise Beginning, 2008 by Lucio Orsoni
(All photographs by Elaine M. Goodwin)