On the occasion of the centenary of her birth, MAXXI is dedicating a major exhibition to Maria Lai (1919-2013), one of the most unique characters of contemporary art and of textile art in Italy, and her works have recently been displayed at Documenta 14 and the 2017 edition of the Venice Biennale.
A necessary tribute to a great artist who created a language in relational art made of sensitivity Un necessario tributo a una grande artista che ha saputo creare, in anticipo sulle ultime ricerche di arte relazionale, un linguaggio capace di coniugare sensibilità, tradizioni locali e codici globali.
Tenendo per mano il sole is the title of the exhibition and the first Sewn Fable made by the artist. Both the title and the work contain many of the elements typical of Lai’s research: her interest in poetry, language and the word; the cosmogony of her geographies evoked by the sun; the pedagogical vocation implicit in that “taking by the hand”. Not so much a classic retrospective as a story that is not bound by purely chronological constraints and follows a peculiar biographical and artistic path, characterised by discourses and intuitions apparently left suspended before being taken up again many years later.
Through a broad selection of works, many of them previously unseen, the exhibition presents the multifaceted world of Maria Lai and the dense stratification of ideas and suggestions that characterised her imaginary. The show is structured in five sections which take their name from citations or the titles of works by Lai: “To be is to weave. Sewing and mending”, “Art is adult’s play. Playing and storytelling”, “Landscape object. Spreading and sharing”, “The astral traveller. Imagining the elsewhere”, “Art takes us by the hand. Meeting and participating”.
The voice of Maria Lai accompanies each section through a montage of previously unseen material compiled by the director Francesco Casu. There is also a final section documenting the works of environmental art realised by the artist, in particular in the Ogliastra region.
Tenendo per mano il sole
curated by Bartolomeo Pietromarchi, Luigia Lonardelli
in collaborazione con l’Archivio Maria Lai e con la Fondazione Stazione dell’Arte
MAXXXI, Museo nazionale della Arti del XXI secolo
19 June 2019 - 12 January 2020