press release

The Centre international d'art et du paysage de l'île de Vassivière hosts from july 15th to september 26th 2010, a solo exhibition of Marisa Merz, one of the greatest artists of our time, an event that will certainly be one of the high points of the international art season.

The artworks on exhibit are characterized by the wise recourse to silence and absence, elements with which Marisa Merz has throughout the years known how to use in a repertoire of forms as intense as they are evanescent.

The exhibit is set up so as to highlight paintings and sculptures made of various materials that are part ot the artist's practice. These are original works, new productions entirely conceived for the Centre international d'art et du paysage, works endowed with a deeply intimate charm that speak directly to the spectator.

Through her large canvases, feminine portraits and fragile clay sculptures, Marisa Merz explores the mysterious links that join art to life. This display of her work is anchored in the absolute void of the conical, vertical and masculine shape of the Aldo Rossi's lighthouse, in contrast with the feminine, horizontal and vibrant shape of Vassivière lake.

An unmistakable figure of Arte Povera since the sixties, Marisa Merz has developed an original, solitary work that is deeply marked by femininity. A work that features an uniqueness of thought and introspection that has generated precious, singular pieces in which the elements of daily life take on the allure of domestic ghosts: apparitions that evoke intimate spaces and ancient teachings.

Internationally acclaimed as one of the leading artists of the last fifty years, Marisa Merz has shown her work in the foremost international shows and institutions, including the Documenta Kassel in 1992, individual exhibits at the Centre Pompidou in 1994, and the Tate Modern in 2001. Marisa Merz was awarded the Special Jury Prize at the Venice Biennal in 2001 for the uniqueness of her experience and the extraordinary contribution of her career to the scenario of contemporary art.

Since the seventies, Marisa Merz's presence has uniquely and continuously convoked minimal apparitions, incomplete figures, fragments of bodies or objects, relics made from soft materials such as wax, clay, frail metal surfaces and copper-woven wires.

Approaching Marisa Merz's work, enjoying the experience of her public appearances, which are so rare and intense, often tormented and full of new reflections, means accepting the radical change of the concept of time as we usually understand it, a different time which is necessary in order come into contact with her work. Everything within her - the exchanges with the art world, her opinion about openings, invitation cards, titles to be given to the exhibitions or the works, dealings with the galleries, the curators - is the result of a timely process that reveals different and unusual needs that are breaking away with how things are normaly done.

The work displayed at the Centre international d'art et du paysage evokes the paradigm of this inverted and varied time, to the point that one can say that the exhibit stretches over the whole island, with the large work – equally immense and silent - created by Marisa Merz.

Charged with impetus and energy, the powerful and mysterious works presented here by Marisa Merz bring together so many fragments that make up a large work to enable each spectator's natural sensibility to marvel and become an instrument for reading the whole exhibit. The viewer is led to confront some indefinite material, an intense and magical magma endowed with a continuous tension that grows from one work to the other like some uninterrupted dialogue.

The entry to the nave, the first room of the Centre d'art, plunges us immediately into the interior of the artist's visionary universe, a concentrated visualization of the energies that characterize and animate Vassivière island.

At present, a meadow inserted here occupies Aldo Rossi's post-modern architecture. Gently the building is made to open up to this natural element and the space of the exhibit becomes the place for an ideal walk where visitors can stroll, surprised and moved by the encounters and sensations produced by this close merging of nature and life.

Painting comes to the fore with a brilliant green screen that is also a stain of clear color. At the back of the room Marisa Merz has installed a large picture painted on Japanese paper and lit up by a copper-mesh frame. From this fragile blue surface where feminine figures seem to take shape, an impression of sweetness and calm develops that is inextricably linked to the grass on the lawn. The painting with its linear rhythms seems to follow the interlaced figures of the vegetal elements, in this way recalling games of hitting the ball back and forth and hypothetical ties between inner and outer space.

The visitor continues his stroll through the next rooms in the Centre d'art where the meticulous dimension of the works is an invitation to penetrate into the intimate corners of his life. These works are profoundly linked to introspection and to the primordial question of identity. Marisa Merz sees faces as "a void, an emotion". Traced in the middle of the picture, on the incurved diptych exposed in the study, these faces are barely sketched. The artist has caught the subject several times at different moments, perhaps years later, slowly, endlessly composing and recomposing. The process comes to an end when an ideal balance is reached, when the artist decides that the painting is finished, when she sees something orderly emerging from the visible. Each trace of color is laid on the surface of the canvas, it can no longer ever be erased, it can grow more intense or else eventually become extinguished. Ethereal feminine faces appear slowly wearing an infinite delicateness, all tangled up in fine waving lines. A figure, almost always identical yet at the same time different, emerges from these line-and-color compositions. These evanescent signs seem to take shape through their ideal double. A small clay head, silent and velvet-like, sits on a copper plate at the bottom of the picture where the dust seems to have imprinted a perfect tableau.

In Marisa Merz the creative process is both long and slow. The image of something "endless" best corresponds to her work, an image that is never quite finished, close to the metaphor of the infinite or some ever-different final form.

On the head exhibited in the room of the little theater, the traits of the face seem to have been perceived by the artist's eyes in some model. As they are in movement, the shape and the traits appear to evolve as they are drawn. Marisa Merz's work teaches us to be attentive to the smallest variations, to identify the established bonds and zones of transformation in her work, which involves and puts to the test our patience and sense of observation. The artist conceives art "just like life" and sees the world as liable to constant changes, a passage from the chemical and alchemical state, progressive evolution that is implied by all the forms that bear within their structure the possibility of becoming another form.

Ipods The audio guides proposed in the form of ipods contain reflections, various admissions of perplexity, stories, visions and statements concerning Marisa Merz's work, thanks to the original contributions made by curators, writers, critics, art historians, philosophers, art personnalities, artist's friends.

only in german

Marisa Merz
Kurator: Chiara Parisi