The interior universe of the artist takes shape gradually inside the pristine surface of the painting, seemingly germinating from her most intimate womb, rather than being mechanically superimposed from the outside. The delicateyet vivid chromatic splotches bloom on the canvas, paper or fabric like imaginary flowers of the biological unconsciousness, ardent and succulent flowers in which naked female or male bodies become entangled or joined in a perfect and sensual symbiosis of forms.
An apparent contrast is generated by the particular combination of her medium and message: the ethereal feeling produced by watercolour, that intangible painting technique tied to pneumatic fluidity, the sublime lightness of the extreme superficiality combined with more corporeal roots and a personal earthy profundity; a volcanic wellspring of archaic human passions, impulses, and instincts that are transformed – through a skilful and unperceivable artistic alchemy as well as a wise and rigorous virtuosity – into a wide range of pure emotions and interior vibrations. An energetic and vital plexus similar to a prototype of anima mundi. The artist’s soul.
This is why Ada Mascolo’s spherical art, lacking in verticality, is mainly unpolitical and unhistorical, and speaks a universal and eternal language. It simultaneously deciphers and codifies life in an indispensable yet elusive human dimension, one that is often forgotten and stifled by the material and rigidlygeometrical mesh of everyday life.
Mascolo moves on tiptoe with beguiling and exhileratinggestures that are both decisive andgentle. Bright and subtle colours flow onto the canvas with an expansive motion instead of being spread by single brush-strokes: this too is an augmentative process inspired by an organic evolutionary metaphor, of which the artist masterfully controls the development, limiting chromatic interferences and blending, thus creating compositions that seemingly result from spontaneous generation. Ada Mascolo does not copy external reality; on the contrary, sherenders visible an interior reality which is poetic, sensual and intensely feminine. Her chrystal-clear voice does not shout great prophecies; itwhispers little secrets, like rain drops imprintedon the snow-white skinof the canvas.
The artist is the means through which the journey can take place into the world hidden inside of us. She uses the white sheet of paper as an endless well, for which the courage to dip into itmust be found and from which an infinity of suggestions and knowledge can be drawn. Both in the more airy and lively works and in this latest series Ade (Hades), in “shades of black”, Mascolo explores the dark corners of the mind, the shadowy zones of consciousness. The choice of black for Ade is the response to a quest for expressive sincerity. Black is the synthesis of all colours,including all of them while simultaneously hiding them, just as the Ego holds and conceals our mutable and multiple essence. Black translates an almost physical need for the annihilation of theself into a rebirth of a more real awarenessof one’s own identity.
Ade is a precipitous descent into the obscure depths of utter silence, because it is only fromsilence thata new sound and being can arise. Returning to silenceis a way to start from scratchonce again, to get rid of all the superstructures and masks that we have to wear or are used towearing everyday. On closer inspection, the nineteen protagonists of Ade, that at first glance(and following a millenary theatrical and iconographic tradition found in a variety of cultures) seem to mask, enshroud or veil the subject – screens that separate the self from the others – upon closer look, reveal themselves to perhaps be the most authentic faces of mankind, showing what is usually hidden and what remains after the painter’s experimental and spiritual work during her personal journey going back to deep inside herself.Here the foreboding of loss is a transparent echo among the dark and soft folds, like the petals of a jet-black flower. Ade intrinsically conveys a sense of loss and fear, but also the hidden multiformity of being and self-rediscovery. Once and a thousand times Ada.
Veronica Liotti, Turin, June 8, 2012 http://veronicaliotti.blogspot.it/
I felt I had become a little insect. An insect that was trying to work its way between the petals of an enormous flower, where dense nectar, pollen and soft hair were awaiting me. They were yearning for my intrusion and my presence. (Murakami Haruki, The wind-up bird chronicle).
I have imagined the pages by Ada Mascolo fluttering about, these sheets steeped in light. I have watched them sailing lightly here and there, as if rummaging around the world looking for something, and then they return to crouch beside the big picture that generated them, in a new order, a composition that has the power of anything that starts out fragile but becomes sure of itself with self-reinforcement. They can be read in this way, one beside the other, like verses of an abstract poem with no weight. But one might also choose one of these distracted, dreamy marks and make it travel on, think of it landing somewhere else and starting to blossom again. A flourishing plant or a seed that has yet to sprout, this kind of painting is certainly linked with growth, with nature which will not be stopped. Indeed, with life. Here are the petals of blood, pulsating flowers, juice of the clouds of dawn, winds of strawberries and cherry rays that surround us. For Ada, man, or rather woman – the universe she creates and nourishes is decidedly feminine – feels the heartbeat of the world that surrounds her, lives with the same intake of breath. If I evoke her while painting I see her in the open air, in the act of impressing on the paper or canvas the reflection of the natural world, the souls olittle things, those which do not shout domineeringly to make their presence felt. Those which you simply have to wait for. And recognise. Applying a little patience. Right from the start I thought how much I would like to meet an artist who whispers, who never raises her voice and chooses obstinately and with constancy to go in search of what silence has hidden in it. Sometimes, from this starting point, Ada decides to tackle a crescendo in her tenuous tones, but always with care not to force the harmony. This time she has chosen a symphony in red: the big canvas in which the colour moves, wriggles, transforms and frees its energy. Yet everything is controlled. In her work there is always this double thrust: chance, which invents, and the hand which guides, giving the rhythm, the time. Lately Ada has been using her paintbrush less and less, leaving the poured colour to move about and give lavish form, while her eye keeps an undaunted check on the undulation of the page. We see in fact only what she intends us to, as if it were a true instance of the exactness of chance. Ada’s colours, not made rigid by the order imposed by a brushstroke, behave as Borges might say, “like streams which respect their banks”. They already know what to look for. And they find it. They curve, they follow each other, they cross each other’s paths.It is true, as John Berger points out, that no method is perfect and if it were we would only be unpleasantly astonished. What we love, after all, are the very imperfections: here one may delight in tones which fade or flame up, in the uncertainty of an image, on the discoloured edge which is a little frayed, in whatever the page has collected, but also in what it has lost. Then there is the magic of a gesture, gradually revealed to be unrepeatable. Ada’s first step was to make the picture. The drawings, like the dandelion clocks that I have seen floating around the garden of her studio in spring, seem to have exploded from there: splinters, traces, signs spread around, climbing the walls of the gallery. If you stand for a while in front of the works you feel you are sucked in and at the same time protected. Mascolo’s universe is liquid: you can admire its brightness on the surface or choose to enter into it, allow yourself to be infolded in a substance in which shapes and strengths give no resistance, just as if Ada had created worlds of water to immerge in. Seabeds coloured like the dawn. Then there is the tree. This too is in fragments; apparently it wants to measure the vague limit between the earth and the sky through a small constellation of surprises. Like Tuba, the plant of the Qur’an which grows with its roots upwards, here too we cannot be sure which is the beginning and which the end, if indeed there is one in all this process of transformation. “Just as for trees,” Elif Shafak has written, “what allows human beings to grow and to survive are their roots. But unlike trees, the roots of human beings can travel.” Those in Ada’s work seem to arrive from who-knowswhere and to bring with them the memory of what they have seen far away. And they restore the beginning to us, the start of things.
Lea Mattarella, July 2009
Ada Mascolo – a 360°
The metaphor of a connecting thread is mainly a euphemism in the case of this solo exhibition by Ada Mascolo (Turin, 1970). First of all, because of the theme echoing among the watercolors on Arches paper, the canvas-covered cardboard tablets and the large silk canvas, you could almost say that a story unfolds; secondly, what the artist from Turin stresses is precisely its linearity, yearning to tear that thread of Ariadne’s memory. Mascolo’s operation could thus be read as a destabilization of the gaze of the casual viewer, as well as those who have been interpreting her work for some time. Seeing that so often a “consolatory” reading has been given, that of weak “thought” in the sense that brings to mind Vattimo and the homonymous characterization of the female gender.Radically changing perspectives, the installation entitle 360° would attract the usual critical positions, only to then be broken up from within, with dia-bolical grace. The entire operation takes place under the sign of the tension between pairs of opposites that clash only upon a second reading, to then – going even deeper – give rise to a visual sublimation. In other words, it appears to be a work that is stable, whereas in reality, it is based on a precarious balance supported by a grid of interconnected opposites. You might begin by observing the dynamics established within each of the small watercolors worked in plaster, and which are developed within the square formed by the 81 artworks. Where their points of intersection are a reality and dream, a study of everyday life and a dream of flight, nature represented by plants springing from the living culture exemplified by the furniture and floor tiles. The spectacularly plush result is a suspension of the space-time coordinates, occurring not by abstraction but by accumulation. That’s why the corner-turning title is an indication referring to a total space, but also to the circularity of time. The context underlined in this way therefore cannot be understood to be a neutral background for the female figure who inhabits it, yet escapes it, or even better, who floats within it as if the enforced laws of gravity had been suspended à jamais. The categorial collapse spreads to the technical aspects, so, for example, the treatment seems to be chroma and vice versa, and it’s not just a coincidence that Ada Mascolo prefers her watercolors, smoothing the boundaries in a way that’s far from pathological. Thus, at the end of the investigation, the opposition between narrative and form yields, since although a certain sequence among the dozens of tablets, the silk and the watercolors on paper is undeniable, it is the also result of a decision made by the observer, and particularly, because of the formal elements directing the vision itself.
Marco Enrico Giacomelli, march 29, 2005