Et in Arcadia ego. Credited as one of the primordial creators of the landscape as an autonomous genre, Nicolas Poussin did two paintings titled after this Latin phrase. Usually translated as even in Arcadia, there am I, it implies that even in Utopia, death is present. The paintings, then, depicting a group of men surrounding a tomb in a pastoral scenery, becomes a memento mori, a remembrance of mortality. Still, the sentencewhose subject is never entirely clearcan also suggest, pure and simple, the presence of contrasting thoughts, moods, and desires in the most idyllic settings. It is a reminder that one never walks alone.
The main subject of Maria Calandras paintings in her first exhibition with GNYP Gallery
, scheduled to open on January 27th, is nature, represented in all its sublime power, indifference to the human scale, our considerations, or even safety. After all, these ecological vortexes could consume us with their sound and fury in a heartbeat. However, there is something reassuring to these landscapes, something almost smooth about these earthly elements. Crystalized in the gentle dynamic of the brushstrokesa controlled and caring movementMaria Calandra offers a fragment of a perfect system, an environment autonomous in its radiance, beauty, and existence. We are enthralled by a different relationship with the external world, developed after the deference of Poussin, Munchs commotion, or the Anthropocene emergency. A new symbiosis is at hand.
Our vantage point is almost always very close to the depicted landscape, sometimes to the point of claustrophobia. Still, we are more engulfed than threatened, more invited to be a part of this scenery than expelled from it. Moreover, despite the colorful activities in the middle of some of the canvases, they have no clear boundaries with the outside world. It is as if the paintings continue infinitely.
These landscapes would be representations of Utopia, were they not actual placesthese are representations of sites that the painter herself has visited, now brought back in all their intensity. Thus, maybe thats what Maria Calandra is offering us: the opportunity to travel to Arcadia with her so we can now let ourselves be inspired and moved by these natural outskirts, found both out there, in the world, and in our own minds. -João Gabriel Rizek
Maria Calandra was born in London in 1976 and currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. In her paintings Calandra explores natural landscapes with vibrant paletes and gestural shapes. Inspired by her wonderings in the wild, she translates into canvas the colors reflected on water, the twisting of tree trunks and roots, the repeating lines and organic structures of nature. Channeling a stream of consciousness, I pull from both the real and imagined while using a form of automatic painting to guide me. I try to make connections between that which I observed and that which I remember. Some of these memories date back to my youth. The result are paintings dense with detail, purposefully lacking depth, to which ones eyesight needs to adjust, as if it were in the woods.
In her graphite drawings, made in connection to the ongoing project Pencil in the Studio, she depicts the studios and artworks of her contemporaries and the places these and other works exist beyond the studio: museums, galleries, artists homes, and collectors walls. Acting like a portrait and homage to not only her historical influences and the institutes they exist in, but also to the work of her contemporary peers. Calandra holds an MFA in Painting from Cornell University, and a BFA in Painting from Ohio University.
The exhibition at GNYP Gallery, Knesebeckstraße 96, 10623 Berlin, will end onFebarury 25th, 2023.