Mahal de Man (the Netherlands, lives and works in London) is a conceptual visual artist, whose work are intended to existentialist themes, reflecting a deep religious feeling, followed by the ways the artistic creation interacts within the space. We have the pleasure of being introduced to this artistic journey by the artist herself, through a parcours which started in 2008 and continues until the more recent works, encompassing the vision of the universe.
From a primary figurative approach, which questioned spiritual themes, the crucial shift by Mahal de Man, can be identify in a precise, meaningful experience, exactly when the artist had to face the dilemma of picturing herself as god – Self Portrait , 2010. From the necessity of exceeding the limits of existence, this project has been able to generate a set of artworks that visualize the tension between minimum and maximum values of the Universe, the finite and the infinite, moreover the spiritual, where the man recognizes himself as: “the measure of all things”. Moreover, the artistic journey continues with the practice of clay, when for the first time, the art faces three dimensional forms and abstraction, such as the series of spherical sculptures. The Universe (Big Bang), 2010 is the emblematic act of work in this vision: the minimum intervention of juxtaposing white with black papers, suggests back and forth interferences, aimed by pin-points of interpretation, as much as the absolute white represents the divine and the black sheet, the final stage of existence. Similarly, the installation God the Universe, 2010 ideally represents the genesis.
Following a short period in Berlin, Mahal de Man likes to remember of being inspired by the video-projection of a death artist creating a beautiful swan origami, offered as a gift. In this gesture, the artist has found the sample for modeling clay spheres that suggest an infinite expansion, according to their circular rotation, three-dimensionality and spatiality as for Attempt to Three Spheres. Another relevant factor is the way the art-work metaphorically enters into dialogue within the space: this is the case for works displayed in dark rooms where to perceive a dramatic contrast within the form.Mahal de Man, Untitled, 2012; clay, pencil on paper, frame
Moved by the same principle, the artist has realized Rise, 2012 – reversal film: an iconic image where the surface of the earth and moon collide, in the limit of the atmosphere. This picture weaves the representation of cosmologies, galaxies and constellations, such as the most recent series of drawings which are characterized by evocative, poetic titles such as To go where no man has gone before, Sea of Tranquility, Men from Here the Planet Earth, in 2013, with clear references to the mission Apollo 11 in 1969.Mahal de Man, Untitled, 2010, base, ink on paper
All the images seem to indicate a distance between the earth and the universe, as for the photographic medium: it is an analogy for the human awareness which has to face incommensurable scales. The surprising element of the artist’s work is the ability of questioning complex topics without any sentimentality, fear or loss, but differently, throughout a perfect balance between these two poles, moved by the idea of being present in space and time .
Mahal de Man
(Peasi Bassi, Vive e Lavora a Londra)