Journey without suitcases by Linda Kaiser - December 2016

What the Journey gives is a matter of facts. One doesn’t ask himself if and what it gives: the content is open. The journey implies the traveller, like the artwork implies the viewer.

Who travels moves his horizon and who looks should be always ready to do so. So Maria Chiara Gatti crosses an universe of time and space: digs in the past with the knwoledge of a cultured archivist, brings back again in the present a new vision and tells it.

Fabulars is the only great work at which has been working on for almost two years, enumerating every work. Her passion for the “art of narration” guides Maria Chiara to specialize in paper restoration. And of ancient papers and handwritten books she celebrates the synthetic – and maybe ephemeral- triumph. What the artist chases is a tactile, smelling, visual, reflective, maybe self reflective experience.

She puts on an image, which from fragile and inconsistent aquires an own density and dignity; cages it with a framework in a structure of transparent strings–grid and the vanishing points are always different -, leans on them figures that are extracted and “cut off” from reproductions of engravings from the sixteenth-century, builds a story.

The title of each work is always a program, a literary quote, an ironic look on the world.

Her theatres have, as background, the wall on which they are hanging, they remain open, perspective, three-dimensional as they were sculptures, but between the different layers there is air, on which floats the meaning.

Maria Chiara’s inspirational century is the XVI, the background is the Triumph , elaborated in 1512 by Maximilian I of Ausburg and commissioned to the best artists of that time to glorify his achievements and conquers. Here, in the long parade of people riding horses, on wagons trained by exhotic animals, which should have adorned the walls of the rooms of power scattered around the empire, Maria Chiara choses her subjects.

The artistic sedimentation is thic. The first boards, made by Albert Altdorfer with ink, water colours and gouache, become the reference point for Hans Burgkmair to build the drawings example for the carving of the definitive xilographic moulds. The works remains unfinished because of emperor’s death in 1519.

To incomplete pages again Maria Chiara taps, to build the backside of her microcosms, which is beside the mirror. It’s like an hidden treasure, an additional – not random – indication of way of reading the work. The images are “extracted” from the piece of ancient paper with an awl of different sizes – her favourite instrument, essential when practicing restoration -, are hanged to fishing strings and stimulate a two-faced look. On the front are showed the figures that correspond with the outlines; on the back their DNA is revealed, their genetic code, why they’re standing there.

Original papers from the sixteenth century are used mainly from French magazines which, during a lot of years of research and collecting, she was able to “save” them from the pulping mill. Incompleted years, single papers not anymore able to be restorated, damaged papers provide the desired images. L’art pour tout: the decoration, the ornamentation, the medal, the scrap.

With her artistic act, Maria Chiara, integrates and transliterates the documents that have written history. Maybe they are just “Parole al vento” (“words out of the air”), maybe they’re much more. It depends, as always, from the letter of each one. The background, with a really ancient twine, it’s an antiphon without the four evangelists. Instead of them, there are the four winds of the geographic maps of the Renaissance. The map of the sixteenth-century totius terrarium orbis by Frederik de Wit is scorched, riddled with holes and crumpled: as the world of today is. The green frame, intended to be kitsch and exaggerated, is made with multi-layered  wavy cardboard, rigid but light, not acid. The artist always applies on the back a loom of wood, conveniently plastered, that gives depth and also permits to plant the nails to create the “web” of strings in which lock up the cards.

The frame is hand-coloured, using the ancient method of the “miniature on paper”, with natural tempera, chalk, melted pigments, mixed-media colours. It can be seen a sort of piano’s keyboard, it can be felt the joy of music, of the ideal, of nature and serenity: what it could have been, but it’s not.

An assembled nostalgia, however, seems to be felt by Maria Chiara, when unveils the history of the man of today, that Del color vide il galoppo (“Of the colour saw the gallop”). The little sized character put in the foreground is facing the one to the one at a gallop, who’s looking elsewhere. The red clogs mean movement, but one can feel the non-communication between people that aren’t speaking to each other. The viewer himself doesn’t talk with neither of the protagonists, that are shown from the back or elusive. The frame reaffirmes his symbolic role, “closed” as it is by four rose windows.

But in L’Asino d’oro (“The golden donkey”), allusive to the most important novel in latin written by Lucio Apuleio in II century A.D., the two animal protagonists are facing at each other. They look like comparing their loads, but the beating one, with their ears lowered, dressed up and chained, d’aureo raglio invidia non prova (“the golden bray doens’t feel envy”). His potential speaker, with proud straight ears, is as well oppressed by routine’s weight on his back. Not everything that glitters is gold.

Maria Chiara is aware of this human condition, but knows as well irony: comments with an Ops! the distraction of his character that, in a nice metalinguistic joke, burns the frame as he walks out.

The artist lives her passion to the fullest, which are the pictured books of each age, the Ornament (with his history) and her own “job”. She loves Hieronymus Wierix (1553-1619) and the deutsch Reinassance, the school of the master engravers, goldsmiths and carvers of the 1500, Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898) and the Preraffaelitis, the english illustrator Aubrey Beardsley (1872-1898).

Only a shadow seems to disturb Maria Chiara and it is, that what she said, what, because of fear, shyness or received education, she has delevoped only a little. The shadow is the unclear in which you hide, is the il Cavalier con guaio appresso (“Knight with his trouble”), the one that didn’t defeat the dragon that was with him. Is, in conclusion , La mia ombra nella storia (“My shadow in History”), the one that projects the simple viewer that is passing by: is the character’s moment of light, who is able to catch the best from what it’s surrounding him. What the journey gives, indeed.

Cards and other stories. Maria Chiara Gatti in Genoa by Linda Kaiser - December 2016


M & M Gallery, Genoa - until 22 December 2016. The first staff of Maria Chiara Gatti makes its mark. Her works are elegant and refined, are lightweight construction paper, which encase the characters of its representations or they release the ideal tensions. Defying the laws of gravity.


Fabulars is the only major work to which Maria Chiara Gatti works for about two years.His passion for the art of storytelling guides her to specialize in restoration paper. And of old maps and manuscripts books she celebrates the synaesthetic - and perhaps ephemeral - triumph. It is a tactile experience, smelling, visual, contemplative, sometimes self-reflexive, what the artist pursues. Sets up an image, the cages with a frame in a transparent wire structure, supports you extrapolate figures and "crops" of reproductions of sixteenth-century engravings, it builds a story. The title of each work is always a program, a literary quotation, an ironic view of the world. Its theaters have the background of the wall to which they are posted, remain open, prospective, three-dimensional sculptures as they were, but among the different floors there is air, one on which floats the way.





Critic review of Maria Chiara Gatti by Maria Grazia Todaro - May 2016



Maria Chiara Gatti likes very much picking up an old book, unfolding its cover and finding what somebody wrote and drew above all : a beautiful story, or even just publishing date of the book, or a handed written dedication… maybe one hundred years ago, with all symbols left by a fountain pen : spirals and locks.

We must understand that it is not possible to preserve these documents forever.

In most cases they remain hidden in some archives and dark boxes. They are occasionally brought out so as they do not fall apart by daily use.


For this reason, the Artist loves finding papers of ancient Arts, bringing extraordinary old documents and images back to life, and allowing them , with their primitive charm, to be again distributed into this technologic era. Each picture is given to life again by its love for the arts, in conjunction with charming telling of the story. Images drawn by books are reproduced and digged up in new wonderful compositions that I should define “ small moving iconographic works of art.”


Paper-cutting is a more than a thousands years popular  art. Its origins are not known, as a lot of paper production has disappeared over time considering its fragile material. The most ancient artifacts come from China and get back to the so called Chinese Middle Age period, more specifically to the VI century a.C. it seems that first cut papers were made of silk.  


By advances in technology and how we interact and communicate each other, we risk to lose forever content of these books. Today, pages are seen as a nostalgic place to hold ideas. Pages and printing are often pushed towards objectification and today art bring it into events creating articles on display. The risk is too high.

And then Maria Chiara takes them, crops them, creates, keeps, guards, tells, preserves.


And if the Artist is great in painting picture frames thanks to its finesse and grace, as regards paper-cutting it expresses a direct vigor like something out of primitive and a more intense joy of life. 


Originally, traditional themes of paper-cutting were connected to religious superstitions and were above all symbolic and mythical. In the same way, colors were symbolic and expressed anger and joy, they identified good or bad characters, like in a theatre scene , where makeup of the artist played a basic role. Themes preferred by the Artist are connected to the medieval era made up of princes and princesses, knights and mythical tales and they often remain with original colors and graphics.


Even if it spends several months in realizing scenes  to be shown and told like little theaters, according to the Artist research takes up most of its time, looking for centuries-old documents and reproduction of images trying to decrypt their secrets. Everything is made up by a dedicated work , but Maria Chiara is an enthusiast and is happy in doing it. It is about a project of research in art form. Her heart stands in produced objects but above all in research. She has build up a private collection of many documents and books over the years in order to be sure this extraordinary art will never again be got lost.  


Vibrating importance of paper-cutting gets an own autonomy, charm of a fair three-dimensionality above all unveiling by light outlines.

She cuts images by using sharp edge of a knife and she adds a fleeting level of organic curves and punctuation to her work that often moves in a gesture close to a feather and what could simply be a needless effect gives on the contrary some emotions and narrative to printings, fully produced according to movement of the caught image.


Some work-pieces include two or more printings which have been tangled in one another. It is a play of heats and vacuums as well as of content and proportions of an invisible net of strong movements describing at the same time transient quality of a single movement.

Fabulars, Maria Chiara Gatti’s hanging plots by Fabrizio Guerrini
Fabulars. This is what she calls them: a witty mix of fabula and ars, of visual story telling and narrative figuration. Maria Chiara Gatti has always worked with antique paper, following the warp techniques and watermarks, confronting herself with the greats of the past that have made a vocation and a profession out of engraved markings. Manual artisanal skill, seduced by the creation of art using presses, gravers and so much genius.

As one of the great German master engravers of the XVth century which were known as Dürer and Burgkmair, capable of giving the memory of the centuries the most amazing imperial processions made of paper: the triumphs of Maximilian the First, or the most important of the graphic series ever produced for the freshness of documentary evidence, art and poetry.

Paper that evokes stories, stories that are evoked. And this is how the Fabulars came to be: Maria Chiara Gatti has followed the tracks of the past, in order to transform them into something new, without however forgetting their origins.
 The force of the “object trouvé/found object” which in the hands of the artist becomes an art form, communication of a new path. The engraved figures are freed from their paper cages and are confronted with the transparency of plexiglas and with the surrounding air, which is dominated by the thin twisted wires. Light stories, flying thoughts, antique and modern that try to communicate with the spectator. Knights, princes, peasants, animals and flags, colours and frames: a puzzle that the imagination has to put together. 

Maria Chiara Gatti creates her enchantment on paper on the trail of something that seems to recall, in contemporary art, the Visual Poetry or the works of Jiri Kolar.  However, be careful, the enchantment can become a spell: do not allow yourselves to be deceived by what you see.  Fairy tales do not always have a happy ending. Even if they are still told anyway. 
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