2 - 25 October 2001
LONDON Front Room
Mara Amats's works are unusual. Since her exhibition at Art First in 1999 she has continued to explore the art of paper making using a variety of materials such as water hyacinth, maize, banana plant and the river reed, Phragmytes. On to and into these papers she introduces natural objects - parts of a wasp's nest, birds skulls, feathers, shells - that create the narrative.
There are three principal series in this show - The Wasp Chronicles (inspired byAristophenes' The Wasps), The Book of Jonah, and Thankas - contemplative images used by Tibetan Bhuddists. Underlying Amats's work throughout is the formal tradition of icon painting, which she studied under the legendary Russian artist and monk, Gregory Krug. It helps explain her search for the mysterious, for the sacred object capable of miracles. It also explains the affinity she feels with Buddhism and Hinduism as well as the numinous qualities of Shaman and Animistic art.
Like Eileen Lawrence, Amats uses natural forms as symbols, and imbues her images with a strong spiritual and contemplative aspect. But whereas Lawrence paints the object, Amats provides us with the real thing. This physicality gives the work quite a different perspective. Furthermore her manipulation of raw pulp and her inventivenes with paper blur the distinction between the two dimensional and the three dimensional to create compelling beautiful reliefs.
Her work is in institutions and private collections here and in Europe, Canada, America, Russia and Ethiopia.