MADI - ELSEWHERE
contemporary art movements have folded, whilst others survive as curios or as
historical references. The MADI art
movement, on the other hand, emerged with a new lease of life during the second
half of the 1980s, and now has over one hundred member artists spanning fourteen
nationalities and many more cultures and backgrounds than could be quantified.
MADI art left
behind the traditional frame, and instead chose to move towards polygonal,
convex and concave forms, thereby creating multi-layered and articulated
surfaces. The use of animation and
the launching of the “coplanals” gave MADI its playful personality.
autonomous visual objects, where the canvas and the sculpture often blend
together, rubbing out all traces of the formal boundaries which can be found in
most other art forms. It can be
pictorial or sculptural object ceases to be isolated but becomes one with its
environs. A painting would no longer be a speck on the wall, nor would be as in
the North American Abstract Expressionist movement, a work destined – by its
own gigantic form – to blitzkrieg and ultimate replace a superfluous support.
Rather, the background (the wall, a panel, etc) on which a Madi painting is
displayed would become an integral part of the work as would the spatial
elements embedded in the piece (the cut-outs, irregular planes and so forth).
Last but not least, the viewer, who could at will change the proportional
relationships of the work and thus create a piece beyond the control of the
artist, also becomes a constitutive component of the creative process.” 2
(and I quote Guillermo Gregorio), “invents and produces spaces,”
and not only in the context of its relationship with the wall. Whilst
Cubists fragmented space, Madis penetrate it. MADI excavates, avoiding
compact structures. As the sculpture gains complexity, MADI creates
new openings; space is no longer an illusion, but becomes an integral
and tangible part of the object.
Still, MADI art
can go much much further.
On the eve of
the MADI exhibition at the Chateau Saint-Cirq Lapopié in 1993, Carmelo Arden
Quin, founder of the MADI movement wrote: “The sempiternal orthogonal support
still used by all modern artists annoys me. Let us create new combinations of
planes, surfaces and volumes.” 3
It is not enough
to start knawing away at the corners of the square or the rectangle to become a
MADI artist. One needs to create
from source a purely polygonal, original and personal form. By all means, go
ahead and erect monuments in memoriam of Mondrian and Malevitch, but please, let
us acknowledge and embrace the present and future of modern art.
MADI may have
shattered the Renaissance rigidity of the square and rectangle, but look inside
the majority of homes, and what do we see? On each computer, the most famous
emblem of our technological culture is always omnipresent before our eyes; and
it is the MADI-like irregularly shaped version of the Mondrian grid which forms
the famous Microsoft logo. Yet, floral or ornithological images still crowd our
walls, proving, that in the visual arts, we have a lot of catching up to do.
We have crossed the threshold of the third millennium but the perception
of the visual arts by the majority of humanity remains entrenched in the
GEOMETRY IS BEAUTIFUL
art challenges the monopoly which the Surrealists have had on our subconscious.
Yes, these painters were masters, but they always drew their inspiration from
literary origins. When MADI art travels into the subconscious, it brings back
lozenges, triangles, meanders and circles from the Greek Art of the 7th
century B.C., knows today as the Geometric Age. Alternatively, Celtic diagonal
lines are transposed to the artform, as described by Romilly Allen: “The
fertility of imagination exhibited in the production of so many beautiful
patterns by combining diagonal straight lines in every conceivable way is really
travelling deeper into our psyche, we find that the same lines, curves,
diagonals, zigzags and spirals have been played out in subliminal yet
inspirational symphonies from the beginning of time.
chose a geometric language, believing that geometry is not only at the origin of
all natural forms but also, at the basis of our atavistic memory.
a child a piece of chalk or a crayon. At the age of two, the child will draw
circles. To express itself, a child will look to geometry and will, in most
cases, be quite inventive. That is, until the time when linear and uniform
“education” will make it slowly but surely lose its inventive personality.
live in a world transformed by psychoanalysis, relativity, Heisenberg’s
uncertainty principle, and philosophy of chaos. Yet, what do we teach our
children in art class? If we were to follow in the footsteps of a well-known
Florida critic, “one should reproduce the Sarasota sunset.” MADI artists
think of sunsets as very beautiful, but unlike this critic, we do not believe
that these constitute an art object.
and telescopes, which both allow us to see what is normally invisible to the
naked eye, show us that there is indeed something “divine” about geometry.
Look at these examples: the arched colours of the rainbow; the ripples of water
in a pond; the profusion of concentric shapes in the wings of the butterfly; the
stars moving in circles around the sky; spherical drops of water falling from
the sky. And what about the planets’ movements on ellipses, the swirling
spiral of hurricanes, and the perfectly hexagonal snowflake? And why do viruses
always develop into a geometrical shape?
Every year, the
French eagerly await for the arrival of the Beaujolais Nouveau, a young, red
wine with a strong personality. At the outset, no one ever knows if the current
Beaujolais grape will succeed or not, but nevertheless, the wine makers always
invest renewed passion into the process, in the hopes that the current year’s
brew will be the best.
Like these wine
makers, I believe that the MADI artist needs to display the same sense of
rejuvenation, daring and enthusiasm with each new work of art. To constantly
innovate whilst maintaining a fresh approach to one’s work is paramount as an
artist. In geometric
art, MADI takes after Gauguin who said one should “have the right to dare
would like to see an art, an asymmetrical architecture, which goes beyond
repetitive surfaces. Let us go beyond minimalism and concrete art.5
“The “human mind is attached to symmetry. However, perfect symmetry
is repetitive and predictable, and our minds also like surprises, so we often
consider imperfect symmetry to be more beautiful than exact mathematical
symmetry…Symmetry breaking is a more dynamic idea.” 6
the most serious MADI artists can be described as playful. The structured forms
and the imaginative, rich, warm and playful quality of MADI may help provide an
answer to the “angst”, the confusion and the feeling of dislocation so often
experienced in the modern world.
Huizinga, the Danish philosopher, writes that “genuine, pure play is one of
the main bases of civilization… it is the ‘fun-element’ that characterizes
the essence of play… [Nature] gives us play with its tension, its mirth and
its fun.” 7
1997, the Reina Sofia museum in Madrid, Spain, held a retrospective entitled
“Arte MADI.” A celebration of its 50 years of existence, the retrospective
brought together 55 artists and 10 nationalities. Spanish critics unanimously
described this event as a “genuine festival” thanks to the open character of
the MADI artists who were “opposed to all dogmas” and due to the
“peculiarity and variety of the MADI creations”.
Pais, a Spanish
newspaper with the largest circulation, entitled its MADI article “The
refreshing look of MADI art”. Refreshing
is indeed the word which sums up our movement.
Maria Lluisa Borras, the show’s curator, confirmed this by saying that
“no other art movement equals MADI in the vigour, breadth and the joy that it
Matissse, I believe that “it is indispensable, all of one’s life, to
preserve a child’s fresh and innocent relation to the things of this world.”
It is this constant feeling of playfulness that, as a MADI artist, I am always
trying to irradiate from my art.
to play, a man must play like a child.”