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Studio Visit with VALENTINA DE' MATHÀ

All images: © Courtesy of Valentina De’ Mathà

Curated and written by Varia Serova


Valentina De’ Mathà, an Italian-Swiss artist, focuses her research on the concept of connection, on the unpredictability of events arising from interpersonal relationships, on wonder and the unexpected. Curator and art critic Varia Serova visited Valentina De’ Mathà's studio in Switzerland to learn more about the artist's interdisciplinary practice, creative world and sources of inspiration.



Valentina De’ Mathà's studio in Switzerland © Courtesy of Valentina De’ Mathà



"I often find myself looking for the edge and then going beyond it, putting myself

in the balance and decentralising and then looking for control again."

- Valentina De’ Mathà


Valentina De’ Mathà (born 1981 in Avezzano, Italy) lives and works in Switzerland. Her artistic focus is on the interaction among man and nature, on the causality principle and the dialectic inquiry into metaphysical contradictions and their solutions, while her unique processes interconnect with non-deterministic mechanisms and the uncertainty of quantum mechanics. De’ Mathà's artistic research is centred in human behaviour in moments of unpredictability of inescapable circumstances, focusing on the sentiments of emotional instability and loss of equilibrium.

In her own words, Valentina De’ Mathà enjoys working with materials beyond her control, would it be painting, weaving or photography, all constituents of her multilayered experimental practice. While the artworks that De’ Mathà creates usually reflect her personal experiences, from emotions coming from human interactions to life processes and parts of the human body, she also finds her inspiration in the fleeting, seemingly incidental, fragile things in the natural world: "I’ve been doing some research into the mouth, what it means and what role it plays, but especially into the aspect of it being an opening to the outside world. As babies, we learn about things by putting them in our mouth. It’s how we feed ourselves, and it also has erotic connotations because of kissing, the senses and all the nerve endings that it has. In some way, it’s about having the trust to put something from the outside into ourselves [...] The place where life and the unconscious are born and emerge. A carnal, erotic symbol of sensual dependency. It is the seat of taste, the communicator of appetites. In short, a whole world to be discovered."

Valentina De' Mathà's artistic practice deals with the chemical reactions of materials, the multiple natures that a physical element can embody, as well as the deviations from utilitarian into metaphorical and iconographic. She reenacts processes and media reactions, altering the original chemistry, readdressing value through gestural multilayered approach, following the path of curiosity towards new artistic revelations. As the artist explains very well herself: "For the last ten years or so I’ve been mostly researching the use of photographic chemicals in an unconventional way, changing their function and exploiting their characteristics and properties and the inherent concept of photography. There are a number of reasons for this. One is certainly their immediacy, the lack of predictability in the chemical reactions and the wondrous after-effects. Another is the sheen of certain polyesters, which bring the surrounding environment into the work creating iridescent overlaps that relativize the end result. And finally, the message that traditional photography, more than other disciplines, brings with it, i.e. the illusion of freezing a moment in time and making a memory last forever."

On her daily practice she notes: "My daily practice is to cover, fold, pile up, unroll and move my works. Other times, I just leave them to sit for days, or sometimes years. I have pieces left for ages on my table where I finish stitching them or on the sofa where I’ve woven them, on chairs, rugs, stacked up against the wall. I move them around to make space, so that I don’t sit on them or to exhibit them, and each time they change a little and become something else. For me it’s important to see how and where I leave them, the way I’ve folded or put them down, how I’ve ordered them. How and where I have put them is really helpful to me. It’s as though the material is finding its own form and suggesting alternatives to me."

Valentina De’ Mathà's interdisciplinary work employs a variety of methodologies, among which weaving withholds a very special place: "Weaving is a ritual, mesmerizing act. It leads to ever new tales that change and grow as they develop and are repeated. My tapestries are receptacles of desires and thoughts, psychedelic states that alter the perception and vision of things as well as my state of consciousness, the way a snake sheds its skin, with its movements evoking the thread of the weft as it weaves in and out of the warp."

On finding herself within the contemporary art world and on being an artist, Valentina De' Mathà says: "I don’t think it’s all that important to set yourself at the centre of things as that can lead to stagnation and lack of development. The important thing is to maintain discipline. The artist must act in total freedom and madness according to his or her motion. It’s then it's up to the art system to give a more logical, concrete meaning to those processes. As far as I am concerned, my centre is constantly changing and fluctuating. And that’s how I like it."



Valentina De’ Mathà's studio in Switzerland © Courtesy of Valentina De’ Mathà



Valentina De’ Mathà's studio in Switzerland © Courtesy of Valentina De’ Mathà



Valentina De’ Mathà's studio in Switzerland © Courtesy of Valentina De’ Mathà



Valentina De’ Mathà's studio in Switzerland © Courtesy of Valentina De’ Mathà



Valentina De’ Mathà's studio in Switzerland © Courtesy of Valentina De’ Mathà



Valentina De’ Mathà's studio in Switzerland © Courtesy of Valentina De’ Mathà



Valentina De’ Mathà's studio in Switzerland © Courtesy of Valentina De’ Mathà



Valentina De’ Mathà's studio in Switzerland © Courtesy of Valentina De’ Mathà



Valentina De’ Mathà's studio in Switzerland © Courtesy of Valentina De’ Math



Valentina De’ Mathà's studio in Switzerland © Courtesy of Valentina De’ Mathà



Valentina De’ Mathà's studio in Switzerland © Courtesy of Valentina De’ Mathà