What is the nature of days? The answer provided by any rural society would have been they are time and seeds: time passing by and seeds bearing fruits. Nutrice gives shape to such an endless cycle through seven different drapes of a different colour each, featuring the astrological symbols, related to each day of the week, and now revisited in terms of shape and colours of the different cereals (wheat, rice, barley, millet, rye, oat and corn), according to Steiner’s anthroposophy.
These art crafts are free to flap in the breeze, as processional banners, altar armaments, sheets hanging from balconies in Southern countries, proudly showing a double principle of life – symbol and substance – captured in a locket, also representing the sieve separating the grain from its impurities. Seeds, woven together through the gentle and slow moving gesture of sewing, look like the initials embroidered on a precious trousseau, tying the union of the stars with the community. It is a marriage, indeed, celebrating the astrological symbols, featured as live entities, and not conceived as mere invented hieroglyphs, but rather as the synthesis of a real cohesion between sky and earth, nourishing and providing us with what we need.
Maria Lucrezia Schiavarelli’s work unfolds and develops like a living organism, in line with what has always been the core of her research, starting from basic elements like molds, then reaching to complex subjects, like human anatomy. She depicts life as deprived of weight and rigidity, though not in the same acceptation as Bauman’s liquid society, where all form of stability melt. Life, as captured by Maria Lucrezia, has more of an amniotic, pre-natal and therefore, maternal connotation. A place where all can still organize and grow following to its peculiar essence, just like the eye’s iris can correspond with a starry sky since they share, in fact, the Medesimi rapporti (Same proportions).
In this womb, even single vegetables or animals acquire their own identity and life. You get the impression that these objects are being observed, carefully looked after, almost caressed, and revealing the importance of sensorial perception in grasping the inner meaning of reality. The scale of proportions is not always clear – an organic form might blend into a city-map – however, that is nothing but the reflection of ambivalent spaces oscillating between macro and microcosm.
Ambiguity, not vagueness. If so many Italian artists have been inspired in the last decades by Italo Calvino’s Lightness, the most appropriate American lesson concerning Maria Lucrezia Schiavarelli would be “exactitude”: clear sign, keen eye on details, bright images and deep interest of science. Her work connects with the minimal art not so much by the use of simple and geometric shapes, rather repeating a continuous and patient gesture. Her commitment to exactitude comes also from the microscope, the scientific tool that manages to watch closely the inner structure of things.
It is the exactitude given by minimalism, as visible in backlight in the majority of her works, a relation observed more in the continuity of detailed gestures rather than in the geometrical scale of shapes. It is also the microscope vision of things, the way of deeply looking at the inner structures. Hence the question: what is the nature of days?
Maria Lucrezia Schiavarelli’s work shows her bright love for making, as a reflection of “thinking through her own hands”, her processing abstract concepts just when shaping a new object. It recalls the same pleasant feeling one gets looking at some refined decorations or mandala: once carefully observed they reveal the density of pure repetitive configurations.
According to Gombrich, there is an innate “sense of order” inciting man to scan time and space. A similar attitude spots in Maria Lucrezia’s works, though disclosing a “sense of harmony”, since her research focuses mainly on the equilibrium point.
© 2014 by Maria Lucrezia Schiavarelli