Curated by: Francesco Maggiore
From 8 December 2019 to 8 March 2020 in the National Museum of Medieval and Modern Art of Basilicata, inside the seventeenth-century Palazzo Lanfranchi in Matera, the exhibition Double Trama will be open to the public. Maria Lai, Antonio Marras , co-produced, organized and coordinated by the Basilicata Regional Museum Complex, and by the Matera-Basilicata 2019 Foundation, as part of the cultural program of the European Capital of Culture.
The exhibition is strongly desired by Antonio Marras , who conceived it together with Francesco Maggiore and who has always seen in Maria Lai " a traveling companion , a muse, a genial friend, affectionate and guardian of the soul" . A path of over 300 works by Maria Lai and Antonio Marras: unpublished works by the great Sardinian artist, selected from the personal archive of Antonio Marras and the Maria Lai Archive that interact with works and installations by Antonio Marras, but also with works created by both four hands.
Thinking about Italy 2019, with this exhibition Matera wants to celebrate Maria Lai, to whom the candidacy of Cagliari (which was one of the finalist cities in the selection of the European Capital of Culture) was dedicated in the year in which the centenary of her birth occurs. The special exhibition project recounts the singular encounter with Antonio Marras retracing the stages of an intimate, decisive and industrious dialogue, based on the lightness and sensitivity of the unusual union; a relationship that arose between the two spirits, united by the freedom to escape from organized systems and the ability to unite, assemble, hold together thoughts, existences, places, people, projects.
Once again Palazzo Lanfranchi, at the center of the network of the Basilicata Museum Complex and the Matera-Basilicata 2019 process, opens up to contemporary languages and welcomes the challenge of an exhibition that investigates, first of all, the human and artistic relationship between two figures who have found in doing together, often working with their hands, the figure of a special understanding that reverberates far beyond the production of works, permeating a cultural and spiritual dimension that the comparison and intersection of the works returns in a all unpublished. Mirrors, reverberations and simple suggestions light up small and large lights on this generative link, which represents the first reason for this exhibition
The bond between Maria Lai and Antonio Marras has deep roots: it was the artist who was the first person to have seen and supported Antonio's works. Both share the ability to give new life to scraps and fragments, to give new meanings to disused objects; says, in fact, Marras: "The thing that fascinates me most and interests me is to give voice to elements that apparently are silent and perhaps affect only me, but then working on them I try to create a language so that this inspiration becomes real and translates into 'objects' that I show… ".
The exhibition focuses on the obsessions of the two artists, on the subject pressed by the need to perform a creative act and, in turn, investigated through a continuous analysis of his own memory and places of belonging, according to an axiom that Maria Lai summarizes in: “Man needs to put together the visible and the invisible therefore he elaborates fairy tales, myths, legends, parties, songs, art” (1999).
The exhibition itinerary winds through the spaces of Palazzo Lanfranchi on three levels.
The first room houses frayed books, embroidered pages, drawings, watercolors and a large sheet with sewn sheets, works created over the years by Maria Lai and which today Antonio Marras makes dialogue with his "Orphans", luminous creatures that occupy the space exhibition and leading to the “Fililailai” dress, made by Antonio for Maria, set up for the occasion like a painting.
The long entrance corridor of the Museum is punctuated by the succession of nine large Marras tapestries, woven in Afghanistan and embroidered in Sardinia with the application of pieces of old jackets.
To welcome the visitor on the first floor 120 drawings portraying the inhabitants of the village La Martella, made several times by Marras during 2019 during his stays in Matera.
Access to the following rooms is marked by a symbolic passage, made of shirts and cowbells, which introduce the 88 pillowcases painted by Maria Lai that Marras makes dialogue with her large black and white tapestry that frames a ceramic sculpture made in homage to Maria Lai, a great supporter of four-handed clay works.
Other rooms follow one another that host “White Nights”, an installation with a Sardinian carpet in Pibiones and soft toys, a fabric heart by Maria Lai, 73 portraits with old frames and two frames made by Antonio Marras that interact with those of Maria Lai.
On the second and last floor the visitor is ideally welcomed by 14 ceramic arms, fabric works, an old designed door, 20 glass bells arranged on iron tables that house Marras notebooks, surrounded by thirty preparatory sketches by Maria Lai for the realization of the work on the great wall of the Marras house “Between threads and thoughts” (2004).
In the great Sala delle Arcate , various works created by the two artists interact: shirts finished by Maria with the red thread; mats on which he wrote and cushions on which he painted; petticoats made by Marras to embroider with the phrases recovered by Lai in a work with elementary school children ".. before the school ruined them .." said Maria; display cases with works by Maria Lai made with embroidery and fabric elements; drawings on paper and artist's dictionaries; a box with a work of Mary made of knots and ropes. The exhibition itinerary closes with the large installation "Llencols de aigua" that runs along the back wall: on a large white cloth, a four-handed work by Antonio Marras and Maria Lai, old petticoats are sewn, which form the background for 200 Janas ( the little fairies of Sardinian mythology), small dresses, suspended in front of the sheet.