Spirit and Matter: MariaLuisa Tadei
Andrea Bellini

MariaLuisa Tadei was born in Rimini and divides her time among London, Bologna and Rome. She earned her secondary school diploma at the Academy of fine Arts in Bologna, where she went on to take a degree in humanities at the university. She has studied with Jannis Kounellis in Dusseldorf and at Goldsmith’s College in London, and participated in the European Sculpture Biennale in Turin in 2002.

What, in our opinion, makes a work of art really contemporary?
I think that it is simply a question of sincerity, something that emanates authenticity and truth, existing beyond contingent time, and which must be free. It must also express these elements in a new type of language and look to influence the culture of the future.

You speak of truth. Do you think that there is a truth and that it can be communicated by art?
I think that there are absolute trhths such as, for instance, the existence of God, but whether we want to live and believe fully in them depends on the personal faith each one of us has and on our own personal life experience. Beyond this, I believe that every artist has the possibility of expressing his or her own truth, a truth that springs from the most genuine part of you, from the pursuit of one’s own poetics.

Your work does not seem to have a “sociological” or “political” component; instead, it appears to focus on form and shape.
I am interested in makinf art in a language that artists will use in the future, and I am also interested in work that expresses a spiritual dimension. I believe that it is precisely the spititual dimension that gives from to thing and not the reverse. I think that society has a spiritual component, and, in this sense, my work does have a sociological and anthropological dimension to it. Deep down, the spiritual energy we have inside us impacts society influence every daily choise we make. We do not each travel on a different track, at some separate level: everything is related to everything else.

Your pieces, from the early wire works (1992) up to Pianeti oculari (Ocular Planets, 2002), express almost a dream-like dimension, a light and evocative lyricism. Where do the images that you produce come from and how do they come into begin?
When I was about seven yeards old, I wanted to invent a machine that could render dreams visible. Then, at 12, I started to see pictures in my head, like a filmstrip, and the only way to give them form was to become a sculptor. I think that the dream dimension is much more creative than the waking state. My pieces seem to belong to dreams and are reminiscent ao anothe world. The first image that appears on my Web site is of a reclining woman with her eyes closed, who seems to be dreaming, almost as if to suggest how important dreams are for me. The last sculpture I made in 2002, for a show at the Castello dell’Ovo in Naples, is titled l’Angelo (The Angel); it too is lying on the ground and seems to be deaming. Many of my images are inspired by my dreams, my childhood enchantments and adolescent traumas, and my spiritual and meditative experience. The tension between the beautiful and the ugly is always present in my work. I want to express the beautiful not only as something aesthetic/formal, but also as a means for redirecting man, for leading him outside of himself, as when seized by mistical ecstasy in a trascendent experience. I have been working for a long time on the similarities between our microcosm (the body) and the macrocosm (nature), as if our microcosm were an extension of the macrocosm. I am interested in creating a mystical anatomy as a sort of geteway to an interior constellation. My pieces come out of everyday experiences, but find the divine side of the ordinary. I think that gives birth to life and the cosmos. For me, the artist’s task is to find a point of contact between this mystery and the human. For me, a work of art must contain all or nothing: opposites, like life and death. The creative act is a combination of spirituality and sensuality; it is like praying – being in contact with God – and making love at the same time.

You have been living in London for a long time and have traveled a lot. How does your country look to you from a distance? What, in our opinion, are contemporary Italy’s vices and vitues?
It seems to me that the Italian government does not invest very much in contemporary art; there are not many foundations or museums working with contemporary art. Moreover, critics are often more concerned with promoting themselves and working the system than with furthering art, and they almost never have the courage to go against the tide. Italians, rather than making use of their strong points – such as ttheir cultural heritage – tend to purse a way of life that is not their own, often just producing bad imitations of models drawn from elsewhere. I have the feeling that the Italy fo today really does not know where to go and what it wants to become, does not know what face to show to other countries. It seems that our country is still reveling in its dolce vita without any clear vision of the future.

Andrea Bellini is an arts writer and indipendent curator who lives in Rome and writes for Flash Art.