About Us

ART beyond borders is currently closed due to relocation. We will keep you posted about the world of contemporary tapestry on our Facebook page.

Our mission at ART beyond borders is to provide our customers with unique and rare contemporary tapestries from around the world that combine mastery in craftsmanship with outstanding artistic expression, and to promote tapestry in general as a vibrant and exciting art form.

Our current exhibition features the full range of works by Alibay and Saule Bapanov, leading artists in their home country of Kazakhstan. Their intricate hand-woven tapestries, hand-felted ‘voilok’ and reed-based ‘chiy’ masterfully blend centuries old skills and Central Asian cultural icons with modern artistic expression. The Bapanovs’ works can be found in museums and private collections in Europe and Asia.

Seeking new artistic challenges, Saule has translated her weaving, felting and color composition skills to handcrafted shawls, each one a precious, distinctive piece of wearable art.

While the Bapanovs’ tapestries build a bridge from cultural heritage to modern art, their garments bridge art to high fashion design.

Art beyond borders is proud to exclusively present these impressive pieces to the American Audience. We participate in annual art shows such as the Architectural Digest Home Design Show (March, New York City) and the One of a Kind Show (December, Chicago). Please check our blog section for up to date information on shows. Whenever logistically feasible, the tapestries can also be shown by appointment. Commissions are welcome.


Commissions are welcome. You can order either a remake of an existing design, if the piece is no longer available, or order a new design altogether. Please keep in mind that each piece is handmade, and thus unique.

Here is one example of a recent commission:

Twelve years divide the original ‘Moon of Fortune’ from its newer interpretation, which was ordered by a New York client.  This particular example shows how the remake, although made on the basis of the original cartoon, reflects twelve years of professional development of the artists themselves. Also, the original yarn was no longer available, so a replacement had to be found.

It is impossible to judge which piece is “better”, since both in their own convincing and profound way convey the message of serenity, strength and harmony. It simply shows again that each of the Bapanovs’ masterpieces is and will be unique and one of a kind.

Here is an example of how the Bapanovs have developed a certain design over time.  Four years separate these two renditions of “Lady Knight”. The color composition for the figures changed from black, white and gray to subtle blues, greens, purples and reds. Two children were added in the newer version, to emphasize the notion of prosperity and fertility.

Tapestry motifs can be repeated as long as the original cartoon is still usable. However, when returning to a motif, the artists often update it, or further develop their original vision. Even a true remake off of the original cartoon will show slight variations, whether in color and yarn choices or weaving execution. Every one of the Bapanovs’ masterpieces is unique.

Commissioning a New Design

If you would like to commission a tapestry of your own design, please keep in mind that the clearer your concept and specifications, the faster the design process will be. Also, the more freedom you are willing to give the artists, the faster you will see your idea materialize. ART beyond borders will work directly with you and the Bapanovs to properly convey your artistic concept.

Both ‘Owl’ and ‘Physician” are examples of commissioned new designs.

For ‘Owl’, the only specifications given were the dimensions and the color scheme, and, of course, an owl as the center of attention, representing wisdom and serenity.

For ‘Physician’, the specifications given were the color scheme, the staff and snake symbol, the initials, as well as the request to feature herbal plants as a symbol of their healing powers. The actual size of the tapestry was determined by the budget given for the project.

If you have an idea, but no firm concept yet, and want to develop your vision together with ART beyond borders and the artists, please click on 'Example of Design Process' for further information.

Co-designing “Icarus” and “Circle of Life”

If you have a design idea, but no firm concept yet, ART beyond borders will be happy to help develop your vision with the artists. We would start with your ideas, sources of inspiration, color and size specifications, and translate those into a first cartoon. Further dialogue will then refine the design, until you give us the green light for the start of the weaving.

'Icarus' and 'Circle of Life' are each results of such a creative dialogue.

“Icarus” was the first co-design of the Bapanovs and Ms. Wagner, and the result beautifully shows how the artists managed to translate an abstract idea into a woven dream.

For “Icarus”, the idea was to convey the optimism, courage and exhilaration of the moment when Icarus takes flight. One can literally see the feathers swirl and hear the mighty wings swoosh. The small, Chagall-like elongated figure of Icarus is looking up and beyond, into the future.

The mosaic character of the piece, and the way the pastel colors blend into each other make this tapestry a tremendous challenge for the weaver, where each knot becomes a decision point for which shade of color to apply.

The “Circle of Life” took almost a year of dialogue before the concept finally became clear. The result is a piece of tremendous artistic depth and philosophical expression.

The Circle is divided in quarters: the lower left quarter symbolizes spring - the innocence of childhood; the upper left summer - the exhilaration of youth; the upper right autumn - the maturity of adulthood; and the lower right winter - the wisdom of old age. Each quarter has its own color palette, in step with the seasons. The overall piece exudes harmony and tranquility, and leads the eye in the perception of how the four quarters feed into, and depend on, each other.

And yet, there is another dimension to this piece. The “Circle of Life” is full of artistic references, both from the Bapanovs’ own works, as well as other well-known artists. There is a nod to Mondrian, a wink to Klee, a bow to Chagall, and so much more.

“Alibay and Saule brought to life and made tangible an idea across half the globe, across different cultures and languages, and produced a masterpiece of universal validity. It takes the talent, the expertise and the passion of a true master to make that happen.”

Ms. Wagner

About ART beyond borders

ART beyond borders LLC was founded in New York in 2006 by Mechthild Wagner.  Ms. Wagner discovered her love and respect for contemporary Central Asian art while living and working in Almaty, Kazakhstan from 1996 through 2000. In 2002, she organized her first exhibition of Kazakh tapestries by the Bapanovs in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Ms. Wagner holds an MBA from Rotterdam School of Management and a German university diploma in Russian and Spanish translation. She spent 15 years working in Fortune 100 companies in project finance, business development and business planning, focusing on markets of the former Soviet Union, in particular, Central Asia.