From its beginnings, Valentina De’ Mathà’s research has investigated the dynamic and unstable relationships between man and nature, through the perspective of mutation, inquiring into the laws of cause and effect which govern the fluctuations between these two poles and their metamorphosis. In this installation presented at the Limonaia di Villa Saroli, the artist once again focuses her attention on nature, borrowing its materials: earth, fruit, wine, water, and bread, are neatly arranged onto plates in a meticulously thought-out composition which delivers highly effective relationships of form, light and colour, capable of transporting the observer into a state of secluded contemplation and, at the same time, generating a synesthesia involving the various perceptive areas, relating senses of smell, touch and vision. It is a table of the senses, therefore, where the notions of caducity and transience suggested by the decay of the fruit are blended with the concept of rebirth offered by the fragile shoots which inhabit the plates. Built on binary associations, between life and death, the beginning and the end, but principally on the metamorphosis of the elements and the eternal dance of entropic disorder, this work suggests an awareness of the processes which are fundamental to us all.
Almost a counterpart to the “still life” genre, De’ Mathà’s nature is alive, expressing the sense of life, respect for nature’s cycles and its temporality, the total acceptance of the eternal wheel of life and death. The dichotomy between “food” and “nourishment”, alimentation and nutrition, body and soul, is investigated here with an attentive and disturbing look, and a reference to Lucretius who, in his De rerum natura exorcised the fear of death through a reference to a culinary image: “Those about to die”, Lucretius explains, “must think like a guest who is sated when the banquet ends: if life has been full of joy, then you can retreat from it like a guest who is full and happy after a rich banquet; while if life was marked by pain and sadness, there can be no sense in hoping for it to continue, dragging oneself through new sufferings”. This is an invitation to a lavish banquet of nourishment, more than simply food: we nourish ourselves with symbols and meanings, passions and emotions, transforming them into the joy of living, which is then donated once again to mother earth who feeds us with her fruits.
As Ludwig Feuerbach said:“We are what we eat”, but more importantly, we are what we nourish ourselves with, and what we nourish the world with. (Maria Savarese, independent curator)