Curated by: Francesco Maggiore
From 8 December 2019 to 8 March 2020 in the National Museum of Medieval and Modern Art of Basilicata within the seventeenth-century Palazzo Lanfranchi di Matera the exhibition Trama doppia will be open to the public. Maria Lai, Antonio Marras, co-produced, organized and coordinated by the Basilicata Regional Museum, and 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 Maria Lai "a traveling companion, a muse, an affectionate genial friend and guardian of the soul" . A journey of over 300 works by Maria Lai and Antonio Marras: unpublished works by the great Sardinian artist, selected from the personal archive of Antonio Marras and from the Maria Lai Archive that interact with works and installations by Antonio Marras, but also with works created from both hands.
Thinking of Italia 2019, with this exhibition Matera wants to celebrate Maria Lai, to whom the candidacy of Cagliari (which was one of the cities finalized in the selection of the European Capital of Culture) was dedicated in the year in which the centenary of its birth occurs. The special exhibition project tells of the singular encounter with Antonio Marras, retracing the steps 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 Museums and of 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 that they found in doing together, often working with their hands, the figure of a special agreement that reverberates far beyond the production of works, permeating a cultural and spiritual dimension that the comparison and the intersecting of the works returns in a manner of all unpublished. Reflections, reverberations and simple suggestions light small and large lights on this generative link, which represents the reason before this exhibition
The link between Maria Lai and Antonio Marras has deep roots: it was the artist who was the first person to have seen and supported the works of Antonio. Both are united by the ability to give life to waste and fragments, to give new meaning to abandoned objects; Marras argues, in fact, "The thing that fascinates me and interests me is to give voice to elements that apparently are mute and perhaps only affect me, but then I try to create a language so that this inspiration becomes a real thing and is translated into 'objects' that I show ... ".
The exhibition focuses on the two artists' obsessions, on the subject pressed by the need to perform a creative act and, in turn, investigated through a continuous analysis of their memory and their 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 path 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 stitched sheets, works created over the years by Maria Lai and that today Antonio Marras has a dialogue with his "Orfanelle", luminous creatures that occupy the space exhibition and leading to the "Fililailai" dress, made by Antonio per Maria, set up for the occasion as a painting.
The long entrance corridor of the Museum is marked by the succession of nine large tapestries by Marras, 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 depicting the inhabitants of the hamlet 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 to the 88 pillowcases painted by Maria Lai that Marras creates a dialogue with a 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 that host "White Nights" follow one another, an installation with Sardinian carpet in Pibiones and plush, a heart of fabric by Maria Lai, 73 portraits with old frames and two frames made by Antonio Marras that dialogue with those of Maria Lai.
On the second and last floor, the visitor is ideally welcomed by 14 ceramic arms, fabric works, an old door designed, 20 glass bells arranged on iron tables that hold notebooks by Marras, surrounded by thirty preparatory sketches by Maria Lai for the realization of the work on the large wall of the Marras house "Tra fili e pensieri" (2004).
In the great Sala delle Arcate, various works by the two artists interact: shirts finished by Maria with the red thread; mats on which he wrote and cushions on which he painted; slips made by Marras to embroider with the phrases recovered by Lai in a job with elementary school children "... before the school ruined them .." Maria said; showcases 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 ends with the large installation "Llencols de aigua" that runs along the back wall: on a large white cloth, four hands 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.