Maria Lai (Ulassai 1919 – Cardedu 2013), I’m not old enough…
Proof of author cm 25 x 37 on paper cm 33 x 46 signed (Lai) and dated (09) lower right.
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“At the center of the artistic research of Maria Lai – remembered Eike Schmidt, director of the Uffizi Galleries, where on March 8th a major retrospective dedicated to the Sardinian artist was inaugurated – the most typical means of his work, that is that thread that ‘binds and connects’ without a doubt alive and in fact often remains free and not yet sewn: among the various mythological references can only remember Penelope who weaves during the day and in the night melts the threads “.
The loom, the millennial weaving tool, already appears in a drawing of the Lai’s Forties and figures of weavers meet in her later papers. But it is since 1978, the year in which the Sardinian artist participates in the Venice Biennale, that the subtle texture drawn by the threads arranged on different supports, becomes a peculiar figure of her artistic research: in the “Materialization of Language” section, curated by Mirella Bentivoglio, a group of solo artists, focused on the relationship between sign, identity and codification of an individual “language”, rooted in gestures and body size, Lai occupied a prominent place for the originality and refinement of her compositions.
At that time, Lai began the cycle of stitched canvases, real collages of knotted and basted fabrics, of great dimensions, gradually becoming more abstract. In parallel, she began working on two series of object-books, however illegible: those “bound” in covers of baked bread dough (from the late Seventies), almost to make the contents edible, and those embroidered with sewing machine, imitating with the needle the linear trend of writing, from which leaves tangles of colored threads hang like in the work, “Libro Scalpo”.
1979 is, instead, the year of her first environmental intervention “La casa cucita”, Selargius (Cagliari), which will be followed by many other interventions on the Ulassai landscape, such as the 1981 “Legarsi alla montagna” action, followed by different interventions realized, since 2002, always in her native village, such as “The thoughts on art”, “Il muro del groviglio” (2004) and “La casa delle inquietudini” (2005). Precisely this period refers to the work presented here, designed as a wish for the new year, where the interweaving of the signs laid with the marker on transparent film draws helical shapes and swirls of wings, proably referring to the passage of time, central theme of the Sardinian artist’s research.
The work presented here, realized in 2009, certifies instead the interest of Lai for ideograms and ideosemantic writings that characterizes the last phase of her artistic research: a cartouche included in an ovoid shape stands out on an
X-ray of her famous pages sewn, merging into a single composition that melts the aesthetic principles of her language.