Inspired by traditional South American craft techniques, Maria Nepomuceno weaves straw, strings and piles beads, and sews brightly-colored ropes into draping coils and flower-like forms. These materials form a fantastical landscape, also populated by playful ceramic shapes, shiny over-sized beads and found objects. Holding in exquisite tension the personal and universal, natural and manmade, sensual and cerebral, Nepomuceno’s works are at once static and highly rhythmic.
By Efi Michalarou
Photo: Victoria Miro Gallery Archive
In “Sim” Maria Nepomuceno’s solo exhibition at Victoria Miro Gallery in London, new works expand upon the artist’s methods of rope weaving and straw braiding, in which pre-existing and found elements such as branches, twigs, seed pods, playful ceramic forms and paint brushes merge with the organic forms of the sculptures. As the artist says, her work spring from a dark source: “I started using rope to make sculpture 12 years ago after my daughter was born because she came out with the umbilical cord around her neck. It is a symbol of the connection between the mother and child – a temporary organ [that keeps the child alive] but can also be dangerous”. That the sculptures appear anthropomorphic and organic is essential to a reading of the work: the spiraling central to Nepomuceno’s process relates to the spirals occurring naturally throughout the universe, giving shape to entire galaxies as well as the blueprint for existence, DNA. Following “Cosmic Teta”, her recent large-scale commission for the Barbican Centre, which extended through levels of the building, the works in the exhibition foreground a more intimate aspect of her practice. The small beads used in her woven threads, for instance, are echoed in large, pearl-like forms made of fiberglass and resin which occasionally appear to crack and burst open, spilling their contents like seeds. Elsewhere, faults and cracks built into her ceramic forms point to the artist’s interest in failure as a source of fruitful opportunity, of things being given new life through the resourceful creative process. The work “Sim” that gives the title of the exhibition and in the only work with title, is an ode to the love story of Yoko Ono and John Lennon. The pair met at a the exhibition of Ono’s own work, at the Indica Gallery (8-18/11/1966), almost exactly 50 years to the day of the opening of Nepomuceno’s exhibition. Lennon fell in love with the positivity of Ono’s “yes”, painted on the ceiling atop a ladder.
Info: Victoria Miro Gallery, 16 Wharf Road, London, Duration: 11//11/16-14/1/17, Days & Hours: Tue-Sat 10:00-18:00, www.victoria-miro.com