The fabrication of existence and its limits have always interested Maria Villares. She has observed the internal metabolism of forms to understand marginal processes. The skeletons of nature’s creatures, visible in X-rays, the outline of branches found on the beach, the structure of spider’s webs bathed in light – all this has suggested paths to follow.
When she sliced up an apple, her aim was close observation of its death, the loss of fluids, the residues, the dry peel becoming armour. Then she noticed that the two halves of the apple suggest embryos, life presenting itself again. Seeds, cocoons, foetuses are uterine references that have inhabited her work for some time. In the ceramic piece on show here, a stone surrounded by water blends mimesis of gestation with a delicate suggestion of ikebana.
In more recent work she continues to radiograph this construction of meanings. The process is identical to the experience of someone who finds words before ideas. Here, moreover, the words find their own way to construct a meaning of unknown or veiled origin. The ancient and eternal feminine gesture of weaving and involving, protecting and enmeshing, appears amplified in these works. Outsized needles and repeated hand movements have woven white plastic thread into nets that are not for fishing or wearing. When the amount of work accumulated, its weight in her belly made her weep. A meaning was born. She lived inside this process, immersed in the rhythmic movements of her fingers like Penelope, who made an alliance with the infinite time of waiting. It is not irrelevant that Maria entitled this series Nexus: the etymology is revealing. The Latin word nexus means “that which binds or ties together”. In English it refers to a connection or bond, and to links in a network or series.
These networks of knots construct a woven fabric, which appears loose and flabby but also recalls chainmail, as if it were breathing armour. The resulting structures are slender, solitary, imperfectly made, displaying all the accidents of fabrication. Part knitting, part web, hollow bodies casting shadows in space: projections that resemble mobile etchings. It seems almost natural that these webs and wefts should then migrate to the surface of a sheet of paper, first in drawings and then prints. With restrained drama the ink marks replot silent agonies, and the weavings and knottings result in a sort of mirror writing. The apparent scrawl of these drawings dissipates the weft, creates maelstroms, opens up spaces for light. In her prints, positive and negative again mirror each other, doubling the images. Perfection has nothing to do with these extended sequences, where what matters is emotional mapping of the fabric and of the process. It is worth recalling Aristotle’s comment that art completes what nature leaves unfinished.