Bernat Klein: A Life In Colour (4 stars)

This article is from 2015

Bernat Klein: A Life In Colour

Credit: Stuart Armitt

Dovecot throws a spotlight on textile designer’s vibrant, textured paintings

The paintings of a sometime textile designer who created fabrics for Marks and Spencer in the 1950s and went on to design for Dior, Pierre Cardin, Balenciaga and others in the 1960s might be expected to bear an element of hobbyism away from his day job. Yet Bernat Klein’s oil works, particularly in later life, gathered as much praise as his striking, minimalist tweed designs. That this exhibition isn’t able to go further on the life and design work of a Serbian-born, Jerusalem-educated, Scottish Borders-based former World War II spy is one of the few minor criticisms of it.

Klein’s paintings are a joy; bearing desperately, counter-intuitively dull names like ‘Carnival’ and ‘Enigma’ and ‘Esperanto Parrots’, they explode in cleverly controlled bursts of colour, thickly layered on the surface in geometric globs of oil so thick that some are more like relief works than paintings. Few are presented on canvas or paper; instead, most use polyester and tweed as their base, adding to the wonderfully vivid sense of texture implied on viewing. There is also a small sample of wall-mounted woven textiles, patterned in a manner resembling abstract landscapes, which help create a strong festival programme at Dovecot alongside Kwang Young Chan’s striking pieces next door.

Dovecot Gallery, 550 3660, until 26 Sep, free.

Bernat Klein: A Life in Colour

  • 4 stars

A celebration of the Serbian textile designer (1922–2014) whose tweeds became essential to the designs of fashion houses such as Chanel, Dior and Yves St Laurent.