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MATERIALITY – METAMORPHOSES IN DECORATIVE ART
ENGLISH VERSION by Crăița Prejoianu
I was writing in a previous edition about some ways of representing nature through art: the imitating one, metamorphosed, and the transfigured one – spiritualized – which would translate in an overall classic relation – modern. Thus, without excluding from the two directions the archaism of the prehistoric and ancient art (except the Greek one from the classic era) the period eminently included in the transfigured approach, we could speak of an alternate metamorphose – imitation.
Within the same sphere of creativity, evidently much clearer, from the area of dematerialized and dematerializing forms, we find the decorative art with all its range of motifs from geometrical and vegetal to animal and anthropomorphosis. The unifying element in the decorative composition is definitely embodied by the stylization of the motif – method, process, procedure. Its treatment, especially by eliminating the insignificant detail, does not void it of meaning but strengthens it, ensuring it an aura of peace, tranquillity, balance, calmness. We add to all this, the chromatic simplicity which does not mean a lack in complexity, nuances, and thus moulding. Wasn’t it Brancusi who said “simplicity is complexity already accomplished”?
The dominant feature of this approach could be found in the area of the decorative art with all its range of branches and artistic genres, where a distinguished place is occupied by the folk art – starting with stitching, fabric, sculpture, murals and glass, etc.
Most of the time, the motifs are related based on the principles of decorative art: repetition, alternation, succession, progression, etc. We, thus, find a variety of composition with alternative geometrical and vegetal motifs elaborated on dominant rectangular and sinuous geometries, packed together as in Baroque structures with vibrant dynamic haulms – the Brancovenesc style or elegant thinness, calligraphically done as in Byzantine and post-Byzantine mural art, from fresco painting or “a sseco” of the Medieval religious art, and also modern in which Christian symbols (the dove, the fish, the grapes and vine, the ear of wheat) are crowded in strips and playful basic patterns framing images of saints and religious narrative compositions.
In folk art we can speak of the vegetal motifs as being dominant. In them we can notice elements taken from nature: flowers of the apple tree, cherry tree, etc. We can, thus, find the “riding suitor” surrounded by vegetal elements on carpets made in Oltenia, or the frames of ring dances from Maramures and other motifs dear to the soul of the anonymous author, existing in all areas of the country with specific differences in colour, style and composition. The idea of “unity in diversity” is ensured by stylizing of the form and its simplicity. But to talk about the diversity of motifs on different areas requires a more elaborated lecture. What we need to retain is that nature represents a starting point, a pretext in art, especially in the decorative art in which the order of elements is of greatest importance and not to reproduce, to imitate its models. Piet Modrian, the Dutch artist, emphasizes this aspect: “Art does not reproduces the visible, it makes the visible!” In other words, reproducing things exactly is just craftsmanship. Beyond it, art begins. (Autor: Prof.Gheorghe Plaveti – Arte Plastice, Targu Jiu)