Biography in synthesis

Mara lives and works in Italy, near Modena.
After her first artistic experiences, during her adolescence, with figurative portraits in oil on  medium-sized canvas, she began painting with determination from 1980 to 1995, also continuing the study of the piano; and making some solo and group exhibit in Italy.
She then resumed continuously from 2008.
She didn't follow a formal art education, but her natural eclectic spirit, led her to express herself by various media including: large oil paintings, installations of tropical leaves-painted sculptures; words on silk panels; ceramic pots; talking- pillow seen as surrealist objects.
Her colors are bright, bold, and sunny; her style ranges from expressionism-abstract to figurative-revisited, maintaining a freedom expressive, over time.
She exhibited in Italy and since 2018 has some collectors in United States.
 
Complete biography

My recent arworks includes abstract expressionistic art -surrealist - conceptual- figurative art, full of lively and sunny colours, with poetic references, literary and musical.

I find it difficult to define my art in a single style.
I have never loved labels, limits and particularly the taboos.
An artist cannot feel trapped.
I am still going to research and experiment with the same spirit of the beginnings; and now also with a psychic awareness, regarding creativity: 'Keeping the creative current clear' (C.P. Estés).

The subject matter of my work is often poetry and literature, that inspire me to represent, in different ways, some poetic compositions; but also songs, words, quotations, everything which captures me in one casual moment.

The  themes that inspire me are inevitably: love, nature, feelings, thoughts but also the spirit  of the "wilderness", the forest, indigenous peoples, botany, maps of wild places...

It leads me to a certain libertarian spirit, that aside from reflecting my indole, fits into the passion for Surrealism, understood as a philosophy of life: ..."Poetry, art, love...the surrealist  game...the principle of pleasure on reality..." (Arturo Schwarz, Milano, 2009).

Reading A. Schwarz's essays on  Surrealism, I was happily surprised, to know that the artists I've  always loved,..." They all had a common thread that leads to Surrealism".

 I loved G. Apollinaire, I've been wanting to represent for ten years her poetry: "La Jolie Rousse"and is finally among the recent paintings of '17..." Apollinaire is among the forerunners of Surrealism"; I have deepened for a long time and loved most of all J. Mirò, beyond the work, even life, daily life, ..."Mirò is the most surrealist of surrealists"; I have been concentrating passionately on the work of artists, taken individually and for  long time, and they are:

G. Moreau, Kandinsky, Chagall, Duchamp... "They are all among the precursors of the Surrealism".

Arturo Schwarz affirms a concept that I am particularly passionate about:... "From Surrealism does not go back; with Surrealism something has happened forever".

I like to express myself in different ways; as painting lotus leaves, in a plastic form, with oil colour; painting on large canvas portraits; representing a surrealistic poetry with dream images, a bit abstract a bit ricognizable shape.

 

 I  like silk and make many collages with it, in mixed media; or even to create real "talking cushions" in silk, like art objects that hide their sense in a literary story, to be discovered, inside them, just like" surrealistic game".

I  like inks and water colours, used in informal style, but always representing a theme, a title, a wrote word, one formal element at least. 

I think my artwork as something of contemporary, I'm interested in technology, new expressive ways in general; I like experimenting and I'm curious  by nature.

 I think that an artist must express their time.

Finally I would like to celebrate -beauty- in art, by quoting the artist's work Patrick Mimran that in 2007, with his famous "Billboard", the big billboards appeared on the streets of important metropolis, struck me and in particular with a work, I wanted to take:

"Art doesn't  have  to  be  ugly  to  look  clever"

Education

I didn't follow a formal course in artistic training, even though my passion had already emerged in adolescence, I did personal studies, during and after high school in Modena. I started  with a mixture of different experiences: private school studying piano, art history, live drawing, oil paint, conferences cycles in modern art, helding by art critics.

 Also I traveled to find out the Etruscan an Roman archaeological sites in Italy, as well as the most important  art museums in Italy, and in Europe: in Paris, London, Amsterdam.

Exhibitions
2022-2013 Saatchi Art online gallery London, Los Angeles
2022-2008 Open Studio -la vigna atelier - Carpi, Modena
1998 Solo exhibit Bank head office of the Banca PopolareE Carpi
1997 Collective Ante d'artista, arcades Carpi, Edonè group
1997 Collective Artis Arbor, Mantova, Erbe square
1997 Collective Un libro da appendere A. Arti V.Ducale Mantova
1997 Collective Artisti a milioni, Carpi, city hall, sala ganci
1997 Collective Vetrine Duomo, Carpi, Edonè group
1996 Collective Artisti per Mantova, teater, small artworks 11x11
1996 Collective Un giardino per l'arte, gardens courthouse Carpi
1992 Solo exhibit Galleria Teorema, Firenze
1989 XIII Biennale of art of Fiorano, Spezzano Castle, Modena
Collections
2021 Private collection in Natick, Massachussets, Usa
2020 Private collection in Bedford, New York
2018 Private collection in Manhattan, N.Y.
2010 Factory commission Icam-Inox, Soliera, Modena
2002 Hospital Ramazzini commission, Carpi, Modena
1990 Private collection in Firenze
1989 City hall Fiorano collection, Modena 
Awards
2014 Saatchi Art, Los Angeles, collection by Bridget Carron - Inspired by Impressionism -
2013 Saatchi Gallery London, featured in loop screen
1995  Featured in First Award Trevi-Flash Art Museum
1989 I' award XIII Biennal Art Fiorano, in Spezzano Castle, Mo
Publications
Painter of emotions, Laura Parenti, Voce weekly, Carpi 23.4.98 link www.maramontanari.com/Reviews
In the garden of the muses, Pietro Marmiroli, Voce weekly, Carpi 11.7.96 link www.maramontanari.com/ Reviews
Dense dreamlike visions, Giuseppe Labate, Alla Bottega weekly, Firenze 16.9.92, link www.maramontanari.com/Reviews
The possibilities of graphical narration, Franca Casarini, launch solo exhibit Teorema Gallery Firenze, 16.9.92
link www.maramontanari.com/Reviews

Chronology and descriptions

Poetry and literature are the hallmarks l’ve maintained during the years. They have inspired me to represent in different ways some poetic compositions.
My use of poetry quoting began with the poet Mario Luzi in the representation of his poems in an oil painting and in water-colour (1989).


In my first personal exhibit in Florence l created an installation of banana leaves, quoting Caliban, from Shakespeare’s Storm (1992). In that same period l did water-colours of poems from the poets:  A. Negri, V. Cardarelli and S. Mallarmè.
More recently, my poetic quotations on silk panels are of  W. Shakespeare, G.G. Byron, G. Ungaretti, the Odyssey and F.G. Lorca (2010-2012).

A second hallmark that l have maintained through the years has been the experimentation and the adventure into and through paths working  with various materials as in the use of petals, flowers and leaves on different materials: the first  tests were done on large tropical Alocasia leaves and Banana leaves;  and then used for the composition on paper of the - Artist’s Book – (1991-95) 'Un Libro da Appendere', 'A book to hang'.


Later, in a long series, l worked  on large lotus leaves  shaped like sculptures and oil paintings respecting  the natural interweaving  leaf venation 1993-’94.

I worked with writing, matter painting and sewing all on colourful  patterned silk fabrics creating paintings of silk, in numerous and still continuous cycles (2010-’12).

In the same period I created  the Talking-Cushions. Five surrealist objects, real cushions, even to hang,  sewn in multi-coloured  silk, which represent passages from the famous book:  -The Rivers Ran East- Leonard Clark, 1954 N.Y.

An autobiography of the 1946 exploratory  expedition of an area of the Amazon, “ El Dorado “. 

The narration is so wonderful and spine-chilling which is as clear as the author has been overwhelmed by the magnificence of the amazon nature, while facing a nightmare in a green hell.

(Despite his, because the true purpose of exploration for military and political purposes remains controversial).

I've been searching for other literary sources on Amazon explorations, but I did not find this fascination for nature, in any other.

So this enchantment fascinated me, and  I wanted to interpret it in an art form.

Each cushion, interpreted and worked as a silk collage, contains literary quotations  intentionally hidden inside it.

A word invites you to its discovery  (with a clear reference to the much loved, Alice in Wonderland),  once found, the quote is handwritten  on crisp silk of taffetà, able to remain suspended like a cloud (2010).


Later on I wanted to experiment  with digital technology by  transforming lotus leaves into enlarged photographs, allowing one to gaze at countless vegetation paths, which were initially traced out and painted with the idea of envisaging a real natural complete immersion, in a plant world.(2008)

At this point it might seem that I travel the world, to exotic and distant places: I would like to reveal that I don't have the habit of traveling, the means of transport disturb me, while I need my comfort. 

 

 I have traveled quite a lot in the past, only in Europe, but just  enough to satisfy the traveler's anxiety of discovery.

 Anyway I don't like at disassembling or disturbing these my 'Travelling Without Moving' (Jamiroquai song), with a true- travel-with-suitcase.

With ceramics in 2012, l have designed five large classical Greek ceramic pots, blue, red, orange, yellow and green.

My research has dealt with the study of Colours, to celebrate this, the most important colours of antiquity, the myth, their mesmerizing  beauty and the archaeological  value.

 

Once again, I quoted a poem regarding each particular colour, which became the heart of the work (2012).

In '15 I've restarted the passion of oil paintings on large canvas; then finally after ten years of waiting, I realized theproject of paintings inspired to 'Grand Tour' of the end of nineteenth century, through the captured images, in Italy, by russian landscapers.

 

In '16-'17 I started a new series of paintings on leather-cardboard holder, with oil pastels and acrilic, using bright and dense colours: the themes are always the same, recurring: poems, lyrics of songs, thougts, traces tracks from "The Tempest" by Shakespeare, such as: "Ariel's song".

I believe that these recurring themes are mine that draw, and that they are not exhausted at all.

In 2017 I did a long series of artwork on paper as collages, with oil pastels, acrilic, ink; one time again, some of them are dedicated to "Alice in Wonderland", that together with 'The  Storm', they must be mines, not yet exhausted, to which I often return.

I have restarted the passion for make painting with silk, this time making bolder artworks, compared to the first of '10; there are some inspired by C. Baudelaire from. "Les Fleurs du mal".  

In 2020-21 I started oil paintings on canvas, large in size, larger than those done so far, returning to the predilection for oil colors, as well as a figurative interest to be revisited and renewed.

At the same time I still work on silk, woven in multicolored geometric stripes , were a canvas, writing and painting contents of both intense and ironic genres.

In particular, in February 2021 I started a cycle of works on silk that can be defined as - Of the Exhortations- with different intentions than in the past: I'd say with less reverence and more ease, towards the brash and iridescent beauty of the silk, favoring the sense of the words, written above it.

Texts and words, many words; while the images are offered, already predefined by industrial prints on fabrics, geometric, patterned, or translucent luminescent white.

So our world is hyper visual and although I am a visual artist, I have enough of an invasion of images, of noises, little events and little informations, to put it in the words of Gillo Dorfles of 'Horror Pleni'.

I want a break; to read, think, reflect, in particular on words; also.   

 

                                                                      

Il girasole
Mara Montanari

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