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Zineb Sedira and a Bojagi

Quatre Générations de Femmes (Four Generations of Women) Bojagi

Caption (Left Image): Quatre Générations de Femmes (Four Generations of Women), 1997, Zineb Sedira, computer-generated designs silk-screened on ceramic tiles, Courtesy of the artist and the Agency Contemporary, London
Caption (Right Image): Bojagi (wrapping cloth), early 20th century , Ramie, Toplitz Hilborn Memorial Fund, PEM

In Quatre Générations de Femmes (Four Generations of Women) by Zineb Sedira and in Bojagi by an unidentified Korean artist, both artists have created art from separate units. Each artist has altered one or more art elements of shape, value, or color and has still achieved a composition that is unified and balanced.
For the designs on her two square tiles (only one of which is illustrated), Sedira chose two of the three complementary color pairs; red/green and blue/orange. The tiles cover four interior walls of the room-sized gallery installation. The combination of the clear colors, intertwining symmetrical linear design and the sheer number of tiles obscures the edges of each individual unit, allowing the viewer to experience the entire wall and the room as a vibrating whole. This unified and balanced visual impact draws the viewer into the room and encourages closer examination of the tiles’ details, inviting the discovery of the women’s faces and calligraphy in the three languages Sedira must use to converse with her family.
The Korean artist who created the Bojagi chose to use a limited number of colors, creating interest by contrasting the color values and altering the shape of the fabric pieces. The subtle differences in color and value emphasize the individual quadrilateral units, leading to an appreciation of their edges and the way they work as a unified and balanced arrangement. In contrast to Sedira’s installation, this work is serene.


Zineb Sedira was born in Paris to Algerian parents. She is a graduate of St. Martins, the Slade, and the Royal College of Art in London and currently is based there. Her work has been exhibited widely across Europe, the Middle East and the U.S. Sedira makes it clear that the range of her personal geography is central to her artistic output. Her work explores the unique point of view that results from having a European education while being raised in a displaced North African Muslim community.

Related Web Links:1

Bojagi (Pojagi), or wrapping cloths, are Korean textiles pieced together from small scraps of cloth. Bojagi have very old origins, but those still in existence date from the Choso÷n dynasty (1392 – 1910). They are used for wrapping, carrying and storing objects, and as table coverings, altar cloths and special-occasion decorations. Bojagi are usually square and come in a range of sizes. Fabrics used in bojagi include silk, cotton, hemp and ramie. Ramie is a fiber made from the stalks of a woody shrub indigenous and unique to Korea. It can be woven into a very thin, even-textured and strong fabric that is extraordinarily long-lasting. There are many different types of bojagi including lined or unlined, embroidered, painted and gold-leafed.

Often beautifully designed using quadrilateral scraps of fabric, bojagi were all produced by women. The sophisticated aesthetic the wrapping cloths demonstrate, regardless of their age, is strikingly contemporary. As the only sanctioned creative outlet for Korean women, the refined bojagi are the only clues we have about individual artists’ feelings of harmony and beauty.

Rapt in Color Korean Textiles and Costumes of the Choso÷n Dynasty edited by Claire Roberts and Huh Dong-hwa
Hanbok – The Art of Korean Clothing by Sunny Yang

Art Elements and Principles
Six art elements can be thought of as the building blocks artists use in forming an art work. Seven art principles that organize the “blocks” can be thought of as the construction methods.

Elements - The building blocks
1. LINE A mark/stoke longer than it is wide: straight/curved, horizontal, vertical, diagonal, and thick/thin.
2. COLOR What we see when light is reflected or absorbed by surfaces: saturated/diluted and warm/cool.
3. VALUE (Luminance) Degree of lightness or darkness of colors: tint(light)/shade(dark)
4. TEXTURE Appearance of surfaces both represented (2D) or physical (3D): smooth/rough, glossy/flat, undulating/jagged, and transparent/opaque.
5. SHAPE (2D) FORM (3D) Area defined by lines, colors, values and textures: geometric/organic, soft/hard and sharp/smooth.
6. SPACE Distance or area between lines or shapes: deep/shallow, crowded/empty, and grounded/floating.

Principles - The construction method
1. UNITY Each element in art work is necessary, none can be left out with out changing the work significantly.
2. BALANCE Even distribution/arrangement of elements in an art work.
3. DOMINANCE One element is given more importance than other elements in an art work.
4. REPETITION Use of an element(s) more than once in more than one way in an art work.
5. RYTHYM Arrangement in an art work of element(s) in an ordered sequence to create/suggest motion.
6. CONTRAST Use of opposite elements (see parings above) in close proximity.
7. VARIATION Incremental changes in any element(s), especially a dominant element in an art work.

Complementary color  A complementary color reflects the wavelengths of its opposite color, which is either a primary color (red, blue, yellow) or the color resulting from mixing two primary colors together (green, orange, violet). The pairs are red/green, blue/orange, and yellow/violet. When a pair of complementary colors of equal value are near each other, each color appears to be brighter or stronger because of the way our eyes process the wave lengths of light.

Vision and Art: The Biology of Seeing by Margaret Livingstone. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2002.   

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