From here to eternity

From catalogue 2002 mostra Museum und galerie Im Prediger e-Kloster der Franziskanerinnen Schwabisch Gmund und Kulturzentrum Englische Kirhe-galeri Scheffel, Bad Homburg v.d.Hohe “MariaLuisa Tadei Soglia Ubergang Threshold” 2002 ISBN 3-9807297-4-5.

"Look when a painter would surpass the life / In a limning out a well proportioned steed, / His art with nature’s workmanship at strife,
As if the dead the living should exceed; / So did this horse excel a common one / In shape, in courage, colour, pace, and bone."

The visual fragmentation in MariaLuisa Tadei’s work is the direct result of her transparent desire to create eternity. She wants to take the sublime and make it a visible experience and, in doing so, she makes life rather than simply contemplating it. Her art bears testimony to life itself, one that is full of magical realism.

The changes that have occurred in her work are the product of the way she uses materials and of a conscious self-criticism that allows her to cross new boundaries. Her aim is to charge her materials with a new energy and to investigate the language of space by the way different elements are positioned within it. This is the achievement of her art and of the shape of her works. Sculptures that have resonance, rhythms and an ample sense of space to them suggest the sublime and are accordingly featured in her work. Similarly, her use of tension and the repetition of elements within her pieces are important aids to our understanding of the totality of the structure put in front of us.

The conceptual language that dominates her most recent installations – made in 2001 – marks a new departure for her. These new pieces have escaped the confines of form per se to create instead something symbolic. The individual objects are governed by the transient ambience of the particular exhibition space, but somehow they also have a permanence as participants in a composition that is unexpected, mysterious and emotionally intense. The objective of the work is not apparent and it is part of the process of looking at it that the spectator should try to discover the key elements of Tadei’s work.

Her sculptures do not have a particular subject or theme; rather they create a presence as the prime movers of their own existence. Her work is also continuously evolving, a process that is under her strict control.

The essential nature of her sculpture lies in the realm of aesthetic principles – how can space be used? The work she creates to investigate this issue both demands and questions the viewer’s participation. The individual sculptures are open to personal interpretation, while the installations incorporate a vast array of abstract references, condensing a thought which has somehow taken on the shape of a story, evoking a dream which has left all meaning behind.

The earlier pieces derive their effects from the magical capacity of the materials themselves, arranged in mystical structures that create illusions and a sense of space, fragility and the ephemeral.

The sensuous appeal or exploration of qualities of materials is replaced by abstraction and a world where there exists a multiplicity of languages, allowing the spectator the opportunity to find his own interpretation of the complex visual codification of the elements in her work.

The forms and the repetition of forms in these sculptures create both a harmony and a tension between the different elements and materials in use. The walls and the floor are active participants in the earlier pieces, which seem to emerge, expand and flow in a transmuted reality. Nature is disregarded and the work is somehow outside its presence. The pieces’ lack of obvious function, the mood they promote of a metaphysical dream, allows time the opportunity to become an element in this sculpture, a rupture in a discourse that the observer is trying to interpret.

Much of the first chapter of her work consists of colourful figures and animals that appear to be in a rather playful mood, relatively inconsequential objects that have taken centre stage here in the theatre of life. By contrast with their innocent tone, her later work was prompted by her suffering a serious accident which allowed her the opportunity to observe hundreds of corneas which had been photographed for medical research.

These she now shows blown up many times, wholly out of scale. The idea of the fragment also plays an important role in this work, presented as it is as a new normality that allows it to assume a completely new identity. Indeed the whole feel of the work is unfamiliar, the eye appearing as a kind of multicoloured jungle accompanied by nature symbolism. Equally unusual is the use of music with the installation pieces and a video on which the rapid interaction of a sequence of images of the eye creates an almost hallucinatory impression on the viewer.

The use of dream-like objects and materials such as feathers overcomes the space around the work, denying it its function of defining the elements of the work. Sometimes, however, this is quite an uplifting experience, as the tension between the material and the space results in a dialogue that gives the material an individual identity rather than it simply forming part of the composition of the installation.

The creation of icons, as part of a narrative process, gives the pieces a more psychological-metaphysical presence. The way in which the elements of her compositions are displayed, or stand in their environment, also creates a certain restraint and happiness in them, almost to the point of decoration.

The path that Tadei is taking is not simply that of creating shapes but by enhancing the elements of sculpture giving them a new presence. The repetition of these elements opens up a multiplicity of possibilities in the creation of new space. The instinctive range of her work and the form of its explorations, putting behind it simple geometrical abstraction, demonstrates an impressive maturity and an accomplished engagement with her work from this artist. Her constant attention to the relationship between ideas and form in her sculptures finds its perfect expression in the equilibrium inherent in the structures she makes and in which she has discovered a unique strength.