Nicole Hermans
Art historian and founder/director of "Arte Bene"
A talk about the the sculptures of
Mari Serraris
In gallery Buddenbrooks, Noordeinde 111, The Hague, Netherlands, october 3, 2003

The most interesting personalities in the art-world and the cultural landscape are often hard to label. Someone like Mari Serraris would most likely be defined as a sculptor and/or a gold- and silversmith, a designer of jewellery, in a "Who is Who" book. Despite these facts, this would not do her justice. In her sculpture Hawking (2003) she merged sculpture and silversmithing, but her qualities go far beyond such useful, meritorious typifications by profession. In a totally unconventional way, she makes elusive, timeless sculptures, which are laden with existential power and thus have something to relate about life itself.

Her sculptures are made with her strong, slender though big sculpture-hands. The power of her works are ultimately expressed by shape, by the configuration of the object itself.
Time and again, she manages to produce sculptures that originate from her inner necessity and drive. Her shapes are about thoughts or (un)conscious thought patterns that concern life itself, materialised with her hands. By all intents and purposes "Serraris" sculptures are sort of sacral: they go beyond religion and are not tied to any religion in particular.
They arise from an intrinsic power, most often without literary or other references, and therefore possess sacral qualities in themselves. They radiate existentiality and sensuality: they hold testimony to human potentiality, to the imagination on elusive matters such as life and death. Through the language of shapes and forms, she attains such erotic sensations in the viewer, like warmth is experienced by the beams of the sun.


Speaker: Roland van Vliet, Philosopher
Subject: On the sculptures of Mari Serraris
Venue: Gallery Artiek, The Hague, Netherlands
Date: january 29 2000

A very warm welcome to everyone who has joined us here for the opening of this exhibition of sculptures by Mari Serraris and paintings by Ria Diercks-Kroon.

I see a certain bond between the two artists and I want to demonstrate this by starting with the work of Mari Serraris. Mari is originally a gold- and silversmith and still is, as you can see in her cast rings, also on exhibition here. It‘s quite plain to see that these cast rings were made by a would-be sculptor, suggesting an intense longing to work in bigger and more human sized dimensions, enabling to see an artwork as an autonomous entity.

She managed to create twelve sculptures in a period of three years, which by itself is a remarkable feat, considering the enormous labour intensive amount of work it takes to make such sculptures. This intensity also relates to Mari herself working on the stone: she unites to such a degree with the actual movement of sculpting, that a union with the material itself is manifested: a union between artist and material, the emergence of a kind of living intuition, creating a particularity which somehow becomes a testimony of the stone itself. She is intensely connected with an intuitive stream, expressing it: hidden depths in original matter . .

Contemplating her works a certain development becomes evident. Like the sculpture here in front of us, Mesmerizing, one of her first sculptures, or here Totem and then all her other works. What struck me about her sculptures is that I felt that Mari is working on the petrified substantiality of stone, recreating a beginning from where she starts working on something totally new. She actually uses the kerb stones from the town she lives in, which are in fact shaped already, but the unshaped comes from another level, creating totally new shapes and forms. It is as though Mari is in a continuous process of growth out of which form is shaped from the unformed.

The unformed, petrified stone-power is often still visible in her works, while on another side of the same sculpture there are highly polished parts, creating a sharp contrast. This becomes especially obvious in her later work. E.g. the sculpture here, Collar Bone, where such a transformation takes place: one can see how the unformed original substance on one side reflects the still visibly unshaped, while on the other side it is so highly polished, so smooth that it reflects like a mirror. She materialised these two aspects of stone: the most un-shaped and the most worked out shape, so much worked out that it becomes impenetrable in its reflection. In the unformed there is still a permeability showing the depth of its unformed power.

Mari, I hope you will not hold it against me, that I, as a misplaced civil servant of matrimonial affairs, am blessing an indivisible marriage: I see a strong correlation between your work and that of a philosopher of the 17th century, Jacob Böhme. This morning I came to realise ever more there are connections between Jacob Böhme‘s work and how I experience your work. I need to mention this, I hope it‘ll please you . . . I am of the opinion that Jacob Böhme is the true founder of German Idealism, which is seldom mentioned anywhere. The thoughts expressed by Jacob Böhme are the basis of all subsequent philosophies. He brought forth a real philosophy on development, possibly as a first ever. Hegel‘s philosophy cannot be understood without knowledge of Jacob Böhme. J. Böhme received his insights through visions he had at the age of 25, visions on the origins of our universe. He had to wait for another 10 years before he had another vision, a vision which gave him the means to express the meaning of his philosophies in a truly inspired and coordinated way. He published his work: "Aurora", which is his best known work.

His philosophy describes the idea of an abyss, an abyss carrying everything and having all the potential, not having formed any entity: a supportive abyss. Abyss has ‘byss‘ in it, the part of the abyss which is the creative will. Creativity wants to express itself and desires to bring shape to the unshaped. From this the idea arises that the abyss can be seen as an absolute first cause, although this first cause cannot come to self-realisation if it is not reflected by ‘the other‘.

It can be said that meeting someone can possibly create a mirror for the other, which can release the byss from the abyss: relating to the desire to get to know oneself by holding up a mirror, a polished mirror. This is what makes the creative power, the Sophia or wisdom, create the world. In this world, through humanity, the abyss can come to self-realisation. This very thought as can be seen in the philosophies of Hegel, starts with Jacob Böhme.

And then Jacob Böhme says: seven qualities will rise in the cosmos and the first of those seven qualities is appeal, which is the will, the creative willpower. If you have a creative drive, you should really draw everything towards you in order to express this will. You need everything to express it: substance, idea: the quality of subtraction, which is known as the sour principle.

After the first comes the second principle, which is bitterness. Bitterness contains no attraction. It must distinguish everything within the creative power, because only then a polarity can come into being. The idea of repulsion out of which a sense of individuation emerges: the second principle of creative power. Repulsion next to attraction.

The third principle is called ‘rotation‘, keeping the two previous principles together through rotation. When these forces separate or struggle with each other, it becomes an elliptic shape, only returning to a circle when they reach harmony again.

Then there is a 4th principle: ‘logos‘, the creative word which transforms the dark power, that dark power of the abyss, moving the creative ‘byss‘ to consciousness, where it undergoes a transformation making the creative powers of ‘being‘ to become real. Thus attraction is transformed into love by words: sweetness (5th). Words transform repulsion into intelligence, the ‘saltish‘ (6th). Intelligence gives the ability to make a distinction and tell the one from the other, to the deepest levels of a meaningful research.

The last one, the 7th, is the Sophia, the apotheosis of all. Jacob Böhme says that we as human beings also possess these seven principles within ourselves. But then the Fall of Lucifer makes this one principle, the will to come to self-realisation, so strong that it creates selfishnes, which breaks up the harmony of the union of seven. It is made possible by way of the word which is within ourselves to make us rise to perfection.

I am talking about this particular philosophy because I see that a number of your sculptures are related to it, e.g. in the form of subtraction leading to love. You have created Pièce de Resistance, where one is witness to these subtracting forces, these primal forces, creating a kind of ovary with which humanity can be continued: actually evolving into the principle of ‘Love‘.

And then we come to Collar Bone. It shows us this same polarity, the very polarity transformed into intelligence, because here these two forces are opposing each other. And because it‘s so smooth, so highly polished, it could be said ‘it came to shape‘ like this, that an appreciation for this original principle was chosen to bring about this shape, as a result of which the possibility arises to peruse on it. On the other hand, there is a will at work in the unformed part which is still seeking to find itself before it can be expressed. I love this sculpture very much.

Here we see the sculpture Archè Gonè, the one with light, the one with a bedding of an already created cosmos, creating a new cosmos because the ball in the middle is of iron, another substance than stone. To me it correlates so much with the image used by Jacob Böhme: "In the beginning there was light‘, referring to the creative word. The creative word makes it possible for these willpowers to create a new cosmos, leading to a new transformation. And similarly the light in it is reflected in such a way that a half moon is made visible. It shows me the moon relating to the sunlight. My senses tell me it‘s right that the moon is reflected in such a way, enabling intuition to penetrate into the spirit of reality. And thus I found connections with the philosophies of Jacob Böhme. I don‘t know if you agree, I‘m telling you as it happened to me . . . "