Born in a family of carpet-makers that originally come from Asia Minor, Buenos Aires-born Alexandra Kehayoglou has combined the technical know-how of the family business with her own artistic investigations. Famous the world over for her mossy carpets that look like real patches of wilderness, Kehayoglou works from her studio in Munro, Buenos Aires, to create her unique rugs one wool thread at a time. Her Greek grandparents came to Argentina from Isparta, Turkey in the 1920’s and her grandmother had brought her loom with her —her most precious possession, with which she soon started weaving again and teaching other women in her new home how to make carpets in the tradition of the homeland she left behind. Over the years, their carpet-making business grew into an industry, which is today one of the largest carpet manufacturers in South America. Although Alexandra was raised to continue that legacy, she decided to go to art school instead and pursue a different kind of profession.
After experimenting with installation, photography and other media, she turned again to making carpets, but on her own terms and to express her own emotions and ideas. Very sensitive and alert about the impact we have on the environment, she is using rug-weaving as a means of protest against the destruction of nature and our blind use of technology and industry. She wanted to freeze landscapes through her work and preserve them as they were before they were destroyed; as she explains, the carpet is an unexpected yet ideal medium to convey this idea, “because it is something you can enter.”
Behind my work is my love for nature, and my concern for nature: the changing landscape of our planet, how humans own and manipulate land… I’m interested in preserving places that are threatened or destroyed. This is for me a protest.
A characteristic example is her latest 6-by-8-meter installation “No Longer Creek” (2016), which she unveiled during Art Basel in Basel this June. The installation involved a sprawling woven rug depicting a creek that used to exist near her home, but which now has been turned into a shopping mall. Another recent example of how Alexandra can conjure a sense of place through her work is the installation she created for the Hermès store in Athens, where she created tapestries reminiscent of a Greek island and inspired by Kavafy’s famous poem, Ithaca. A fast-rising star in the international art scene, Alexandra is constantly expanding her studio, currently employing ten people in order to keep up with the amount of commissions she receives from all around the world.