Marco Dolfin

When several artists are invited to participate in the same exhibition, it is always difficult to have an actual dialog running that links the artworks from multiple poetic inspirations to a coherent “fil rouge”. And yet, in the case of this exhibition, the two protagonists, Marialuisa Tadei and Qikai Guo, so distant from each other in terms of training, career, age, and nationality, can, the former as a sculptor and the latter as a painter, create a harmonious exhibition that is both consistent and cohesive, where the soul of each artwork leads the visitor to follow a unique and exciting spiritual flow of ethereal beauty.

For several years, contemporary sculpture art was dominated by the ramifications of the “Arte Povera” movement, where a rag or a dry twig could be considered as a sculpture installation. When attending high-end art galleries, one can notice a prevailing kitsch trend where - through endless multiples replicated in molds, a flashy and vain shape becomes trivial if not fully devoid of content - which often is limited to pure commercial “commodification”. It is significantly more difficult to find sculptors who express themselves with technical mastery and through a heartfelt and authentic inquiring spirit. However, searching with care, those who create sculptures "per forza di levare” as Michelangelo would say, still exist.

Marialuisa Tadei is certainly one of them. She established herself on the international stage through her ever-elegant sculptures, bringing back into vogue the nobility of matter in physical and spiritual form. In fact, her artworks on display at this exhibition are created out of refined and precious marble: Guatemalan green, sodalite blue, Carrara white, onyx white, alabaster, Portugal pink, and France red. The material is smoothed and finely modeled, thus giving life to curvy and abstract shapes that, in their dynamic presence, remind of natural and harmonic outlines, in a summary of purity that can somehow refer back to the human anatomy and simultaneously to the extreme perfection of the natural rock.

The formal model of reference or rather the source of inspiration for Tadei is not so much that of a plastic primitivism according to Henry Moore or Hans Arp, but it is ultimately the work of the “Primordial Artist”, that is, the one who sculpted man and shaped nature: God. If, as the seventeenth-century philosopher Baruch Spinoza stated with pantheistic feelings: “Deus sive Natura” (literally "God is Nature"), then in all creations, it is possible to find a tangible portion of the divine essence. This is from here that the intense mystical power of the artist’s sculptures originates. Volumes that seem to hover beyond the force of gravity and perfectly smooth surfaces with multiple colors that admirably reflect vivid flashes of light. Light that, as the artist herself says, has a sublime spiritual value because it becomes a vehicle to bring man closer to God, as the essence of the Divine itself. Works that go beyond the physical essence of the material to become touching sculptural epiphanies that illuminate the soul of the viewer.

However, the heartfelt spiritual dimension that emerges from the sculptures on display finds its ideal continuation in the paintings by young Chinese artist Qikai Guo, originally from Kunming and now specialized at the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice. The artist, who has moderate deafness that led him to inevitable difficulties in communication - made even more challenging by having to learn a new language - through his artwork, can express all his inner wealth without hesitation and with touching purity. It is an ephemeral and surreal world made of mysterious figurative inspirations suspended in an impalpable ethereal dimension.

The figures are souls that hover in the imaginary space of the unconscious, as we see for example in “Anima che cammina” (Walking Soul), in which a luminescent figure, emerging directly from a childhood memory of Qikai, dresses traditional Chinese robes with a traditional conical hat, and moves among obscure animal and human shapes. One of these figures, the woman seated on the lower right, is an allegorical representation of Italy, a primitive figure whose simple profile reminds of those by Massimo Campigli and thus symbolically bears witness to the meeting between two distant worlds: East and West and the artist's past and present.

Sometimes the visions can also materialize in a more purely abstract dimension, without direct references to figures, as in the case of the large “Etereo” (Ethereal) painting: a composition marked by bright sparkles and dark clouds in motion that give way to enlightened and reassuring otherworldly glows. This is a metaphorical representation of the artist's state of mind in the darkest moments when he seeks his inner light to reach his existential comfort, as he says using these simple yet clarifying words:

Silence and darkness are a mysterious and frightening world within which my discomfort increases, expanding throughout my body. If I want my fear to disappear, the sunlight inside me must become brighter and brighter. When my heart calms down, and I can perceive its beating, to breathe in and out, then in that special moment, I discover that my life is shining.

Another recurring subject that we find in the artist's paintings and engravings is that of the animal world, always populated by enigmatic and surreal appearances: giraffes, frogs, dogs, butterflies, chameleons, and owls. An allegorical bestiary of sorts that once again refers to the artist's fears and joys, states of mind that, as in an archaic and magical metamorphosis, come to life in the form of animal presences.