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VISUAL ESSAY with Valentina de Mathà

All images: © Courtesy of Valentina De' Mathà

Curated by Varia Serova



Valentina De’ Mathà (born 1981 in Avezzano, Italy), an Italian-Swiss artist, focuses her research on the concept of connection and the unpredictability of events arising from interpersonal relationships, on wonder and the unexpected. In her own words, De’ Mathà enjoys working with materials beyond her control, would it be painting, weaving or photography, all constituents of her multidimensional experimental art practice: "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."

While the artworks that De’ Mathà creates usually reflect on her personal experiences, from emotions coming from human interactions to takes on life processes and parts of the human body, the artist also finds her inspiration in the fleeting, seemingly incidental, fragile things in the natural world.

Captured below is the artist's statement about her recent work "Stretch marks" (2021), selected as the opening piece of her visual essay at Zephyr and Maize:


"I wanted to talk about my body, about the marks on the skin that I have lived with since my adolescence and about how they keep changing in the narrative of my being in the world. Specifically, I wanted to talk about stretch marks, lines, furrows and fractures, like rings on a tree. I wanted to talk about how the skin can change according to physical stress, hormonal stress, nutrition, luminosity, growth or sudden weight gain and loss; about those sudden and inevitable changes that, in one way or another, we all undergo through the unfolding of events. As result I used emulsified papers that were not stabilized through chemical processes, which then faded and changed colour over time depending on light."

Valentina De’ Mathà, Stretch marks, 2021, Emulsified paper, variable dimension © Courtesy of Valentina De' Mathà


Valentina De’ Mathà, LAUDOMIA, 2016, RA-4 and engraving on emulsified polyester, 200 × 127 cm – 2 pieces © Courtesy of Valentina De' Mathà


Valentina De’ Mathà, Epiphany #07, 2014, RA-4 on emulsified paper, 150 × 127 cm © Courtesy of Valentina De' Mathà


Valentina De’ Mathà, Epiphany #07, 2014, RA-4 on emulsified paper, 150 × 127 cm © Courtesy of Valentina De' Mathà


EPIPHANY
"Fantastic and surreal landscapes, in an overlay of indefinite perspective views that annul out perspective as such, with patches of burnt light alternating with masses and dismantling of colour. These are dreamlike visions, distortions of the psyche, epiphanies, ecstatic states, wonders, déjàvu, flashbacks. Endorsing this vision as much as possible, these works were created in the darkroom in an entirely instinctive and gestural way, in no particular order of things, without justifying or calibrating each sign and establishing a narrative or univocal reading. If you analyse the smallest detail closely, you can see an infinite number of microcosms, scenes and situations that add up to reach the entirety of the work. This is what happens when we dream, when something clouds our mind, cancelling and overlapping perspectives, images and their meanings distort themselves, scenes seem to have no logical thread. "When we dream, we trim the edges of causality, we lose the principle of non-contradiction, the principle of space-time and we lose our deepest self", Umberto Galimberti."


Valentina De’ Mathà, Four Seasons 005, 2016, RA-4 on emulsified polyester, 175×106,5 cm © Courtesy of Valentina De' Mathà


Valentina De’ Mathà, Four Seasons 010, 2016, RA-4 on emulsified paper, 160×106 cm © Courtesy of Valentina De' Mathà


Valentina De’ Mathà, Four Seasons 001, 003, 002, All 2016, RA-4 on emulsified polyester, 160 × 101,5 cm © Courtesy of Valentina De' Mathà


FOUR SEASONS
"This is a project about the fluidity among one passage and another, about the blurred and overlapping margins between what ends and what follows in the cyclical nature of events. Mankind, by being in the world and being part of it, constantly relativizes and transforms it. The lucidity of the polyesters on which landscapes have been painted through chemical processes adds the viewer to the work, which reflects his/her surroundings, just as one adds oneself to the world and merges with it, always creating new possibilities: unpredictable and variable dynamic realities. This way, the works become an ever new and elusive landscape, in front of which we are disarmed, even if we modify it, and from which we can only be amazed and surprised. I often use iridescent materials, because they are never fully definable, but increase the subjectivity of perception of the volubility of life and multitude, of which we are part."

Valentina De’ Mathà, Valentina Ci 20062029, 2019 Plaster, pigment, body hair 28 x 24 x 10,5 cm © Courtesy of Valentina De' Mathà


Valentina De’ Mathà, EPIFANIA ARCANGELIANA, 2019, RA-4 and engraving on emulsified polyester, 300 x 127 cm © Courtesy of Valentina De' Mathà


Valentina De’ Mathà, #INTHESPACE, 2019, RA-4 and engraving on emulsified polyester installation of environmental dimensions Macro Asilo-Museo Macro | Museo d’Arte Contemporanea di Roma © Courtesy of Valentina De' Mathà


Valentina De’ Mathà, Se Puoi guardare fuori, gli altri possono guardare all’interno, 2019, RA-4 and engraving on emulsified polyester, 200 x 127 cm © Courtesy of Valentina De' Mathà


"In daily life, the desire to break through the burden of conditionings that society has induced in us since birth stands in the way of reality. The seduction of the knowledge of the Other incites us to shatter that glass wall of illusory appearance that opposes between our drives, our securities, and our socio-cultural conventions, following those escape routes that would allow us to glimpse the essence of things, and access a multitude of unique relationships and experiences. Dropping Maya’s Veil, trespassing, crossing boundaries, simply means to live more intimately. The transparent and translucent polyester reflects our image, which adds up to form a prismatic mirror reflecting the facets of our most essential desires. But this fragmented glass also give us a completely relative view of things. Our image, in return, is constantly changing with the gaze of the Other, whoever and wherever he or she may be. Things also look at us: we live on reflections, we are mirrored everywhere, our image is always different, partial, incomplete and restricted. It’s like when we walk down the street, for example, our figure multiplies and breaks down, mirrored everywhere: in windows of shops and cars driving by, with the different perspectives of a stranger’s gaze… Everywhere, there are eyes looking at us, and everyone sees different things about us, constant facets and components of our personality. Even when we look at ourselves in the mirror, standing still in full-length, everything becomes relative, because the mirror only portrays a two-dimensional, "mirror-like" part of us. It also portrays the background of the environment, it portrays us as we are at that precise moment, in that light, because through every breath we take, our image is inexorably different at every instant."

Valentina De’ Mathà, Atto di fiducia, 2019 RA-4 on emulsified paper, 76 x 56 cm © Courtesy of Valentina De' Mathà


"Weaving means creating, to evolve. It represents the will to generate something from one’s own existence: interweaving atavistic heritage and becoming part of individual or collective history. It is a very feminine, ancestral, maternal work; a return to the origins, to the family, to holding things together: ties, culture, intertwining of relationships, dependencies, feelings, and traditions. We weave knowledge and history, the space and the time, in which the ideal world and reality continually intersect. As a consequence, it is the sum of our choices and experiences. The ritual act of weaving accentuates the passing of time in its variables of doing and undoing, just as human and sentimental relationships are interwoven and built."

Valentina De’ Mathà, Entanglement 003, 2015 RA-4 on emulsified paper then woven and sewed with cotton, wood variable dimensions © Courtesy of Valentina De' Mathà


Valentina De’ Mathà, RA-4 on emulsified paper, woven and sewed with cotton, wood variable dimensions © Courtesy of Valentina De' Mathà


Valentina De’ Mathà, CTONIA, 2020, RA-4 on emulsified paper, woven and sewed with cotton, wood, variable dimensions © Courtesy of Valentina De' Mathà