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ELUSIVE

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 with the beams of the sun.

OPENINGSPEECH

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 here who has joined us 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 linkage by starting with the work of Mari Serraris. Mari is originally a gold- and silversmith and still is, as you can see her casted rings, also on exhibition here. It‘s quite plain to see that these casted rings were made by a would-be sculptor, suggesting an intense longing to work in much bigger and more human sized dimensions, facilitating to see an artwork as an autonomous entity.

She managed to create twelve sculptures in the space of three years, which is a remarkable feat in itself, considering the enormous amount of work it takes to make such labour intensive sculptures. This intensity could also relate to the moments themselves when Mari works on the stone: she unites so much with the actual movement of sculpting, that a union with the material worked on manifests itself: a union between artist and material, the emergence of a kind of living intuition, creating something so particular that it somehow becomes a testimony of the stone itself. She is intensely connected with the intuitive stream, expressing it: hidden depths in Original Matter . .

Contemplating on her works, a certain development becomes clear. 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 works on something totally new. She actually uses the edges of pavements from her own city, which are actually 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 stonepower is often still visible in her works ,while on another side of the same sculpture you will find a highly polished part, creating a sharp contrast. This is 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 stands for the still visibly unshaped, while on the other side it is so highly polished, so smooth that it acts as a mirror. She materialized 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 soul 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 realised more and more that 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 at the roots of all subsequent philosophies. He brought out 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 a new vision, a vision which gave him the means to express the meaning of his philosophies in a truly inspirational manner and in a 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 potential, not having formed any entity: the supportive abyss. Abyss has ‘byss‘ in it, the part of the abyss which is the creative will. Creativity wants to express itself and wants to bring shape to the unshaped. From this comes the idea that the abyss can be seen as an absolute first cause, but that this first cause cannot come to self-realisation if it is not reflected by ‘the other‘.

It can be said that in meeting someone, one could possibly form a mirror with the other, releasing the byss out of the abyss: which was the desire to get to know oneself by holding up a mirror, a polished mirror. It is this that 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 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 the sour principle.

After the first comes the second principle, which is bitterness. Bitterness contains no attraction. It has to differentiate everything within the creative power, because only then a polarity can come into being. The idea of repulsion through which a sense of individualisation 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 ellipse shape, returning to a circle when they come into harmony again.

Then there is the 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‘ become real. Thus attraction is transformed into love by words: sweetness (5th). Words transform repulsion into intelligence, the ‘saltish‘ (6th). Intelligence gives the opportunity to distinguish and tell one from the other, to the deepest levels of a meaningful research.

The last one, the 7th, is the Sophia, the apotheosis of it all. Jacob Böhme says that we as human beings also possess these seven principles within ourselves. But the Fall of Lucifer makes this one principle, the will to come to self-realisation, so strong that selfishness appeared, severing the harmony of the union of seven. This becomes possible through words that are within ourselves to make us rise us to perfection.

I am talking about this particular philosophy because I find that a number of your sculptures relate to it, e.g. subtraction leading to love. You have created Pièce de Resistance, where one is witness to these subtracting forces, forces from the abyss, which in turn create a kind of ovary from which humanity can be continued: thus growing into the principle of ‘Love‘.

And what about Collar Bone. It shows us this polarity, the very polarity that is transformed into intelligence, because here these two forces are facing each other. And because it‘s so smooth, so deeply polished, one could say ‘thus it came to shape‘, an appreciation for the original principle was chosen which brought it completely to this shape. This totally worked out shape in particular gives us the ability to reflect on it. On the other hand, in the unformed part a will is at work still seeking to find itself before it can be expressed. I adore this sculpture.

Here we see the sculpture Archè Gonè, the one with the 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 is so much the image used by Jacob Böhme: "In the beginning there was light‘, a reference to the creative word. The creative word makes it possible for those willpowers to create a new cosmos, leading to a new transformation. And similarly the light in it reflects in such a way that it shows a half moon. To me it shows the moon in relation 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 . . . "