On 31st May 2014 Galleria Vistamare inaugurates an exhibition of work by Louise Nevelson and Mai-Thu Perret. Despite their obvious differences, the works on show reveal the two artists engaged in what is, in reality, an intense dialogue. The black walls and totems that, along with her collages, characterize Nevelson’s work offer an obvious contrast with Perret’s delicate ceramic sculptures and the transparent lines of her works in neon. In a playful game of contrasts and cross-references the absence of colour, the opacity and the “shadowy” spaces of one artist are perfectly paired with the luminous vision of the other. Strategies of accumulation and redaction dialogue harmoniously with light and evanescence, revealing a shared interest in ancestral images and in the sepulchral fascination of certain hieratic scenarios.
The work of both artists is imbued with a powerfully feminist poetic.  On a personal level Nevelson was an  early feminist, determinedly living a free and independent life and dedicating herself entirely to her art, whilst Perret has tirelessly explored the mythical images of a female universe which become vehicles for a new social symbolism. Mai-Thu Perret responds to Louise Nevelson’s iconic structures (here on show in the form of large assemblages like “City Series”, 1974, and “Tropical Landscape 1”, 1975) with subtle lines of light. Above all in  “Flow my tears”, which was presented at the 2011 Venice Biennale and is richly influenced by surrealism, the Swiss artist seems to be alluding to the black silhouette of the great American sculptress, generating a sort of ideal simulacrum of Nevelson’s own dramatic persona.
Taken from a poem by Lady Lou [Nevelson] herself, the title of the exhibition refers to the American sculptress’s physiognomy – both artistic and personal – and at the same time underlines Perret’s own exploration of feminist theory.

Louise Nevelson (born in Kiev in 1899, she died in New York in 1988) was the “grande dame of contemporary sculpture”. The daughter of Russian Jewish émigrés, she moved to New York in 1905 and would become one of the most illustrious exponents of post-war American art. A brilliant woman, beautiful and nonconformist, her life-story is a picturesque and eccentric one. Considering herself predestined to live through art, she studied painting, sculpture, singing and modern dance. Interested, right from the start, in Cubism, other European avant-garde movements and in American abstract expressionism, she frequented the great names of twentieth-century art and assisted Diego Rivera in his work on the New York and Mexico City murals. Her work and life were inextricably entwined.
Having initially experimented with materials like terracotta and bronze, in the 1950s she began her first series of sculptures in wood which were assembled from waste material that she herself recycled. The assemblage became her speciality: the overlap of sculpture, collage and woodwork generating structures that are abstract, monumental and baroque, suggesting a poetic and imaginary world. The recycled wood, which she found and collected on the streets of New York, and cherished for the memories it conserves, was given new life, acquiring a spiritual dimension and a higher role than that it was originally intended for. Her creations are monochrome and unifying: the colour black predominates, and sometimes white and gold. She does not want the help of colours. Her use of black becomes aristocratic, conveying a sense of totality, peace, grandeur and excitement. It also permits her to play magisterial games with shadows, which become a defining element of her art and also accentuate its theatricality. Initially freeform, her sculptures go on to become totems and columns, or walls formed of modular compartments, each possessing a form of its own, and all of them unified by the use of a single colour. Her assemblages are dense, magnificent and mythological. They are obsessive presences whose structural, compositional and cultural complexity evolves in an entirely intuitive way.
Avoiding any of the various labels  that might have been applied to her work (cubism, surrealism, minimalism, feminism, etc.) and moving beyond the obvious references to African, Pre-Colombian and Amerindian art, Louise Nevelson created a powerful language – autonomous and visionary.

In 1959 the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, acquired one of her works and her work is also to be found in the collections of the Whitney Museum and the Brooklyn Museum in New York, the Birmingham Museum of Art in Alabama, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts and the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland (Maine).

Mai-Thu Perret is a Swiss artist born in Geneva. Well-known in both Europe and America for her ambitious multi-disciplinary approach which combines sculpture, painting video and installations, her complex oeuvre uncovers the relationships connecting feminist politics and literary references, the aesthetic theories of the twentieth-century avant-gardes and the craft movement – in particular the Arts and Crafts movement and Soviet Constructivism.
Searching for an eternal feminine utopia, Perret displays works that generate veritable force-fields – objects whose function is thoroughly permeated with the social systems that they inhabit. The sheer variety of techniques that she employs reveals a relationship between pure formalism – applied to the minor art form of the crafts – and spirituality; approaches that would appear to be contradictory, investigating the relationship between the object and its image.
Her glazed ceramics resemble frozen paintings or, perhaps more accurately, fossilized paintings portraying a disparate range of real objects (skulls, eggs, etc.) as well as abstract, non-figurative images (biomorphic masses, geometrical forms and circular grills).
The technique becomes an instrument employed to resolve the compositional problems of abstract painting.
Her work responds to the male universe with a wholly female heredity that draws strength from atavistic sculptural images.

In 2011 Mai-Thu Perret won the Zurich Art Prize and the Prix Culturel Manor. Her work featured in ILLUMInations (curated by Bice Curiger) at the 54th Venice Biennale. Solo exhibitions include Spectra, Haus Konstruktiv, Zurich (2011); Mai-Thu Perret: The Adding Machine, Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau –  travelling to Le Magasin, Grenoble (2011); An Ideal for Living, University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor (2010); Mai-Thu Perret: New Work, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2009), 2013, Aspen Art Museum (2009); 2012, Timothy Taylor Gallery, London (2008); Crab Nebula, Kunsthalle Sankt Gallen (2008) and Land of Crystal, Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht (2007). In 2006 she also had a solo exhibition at the Renaissance Society, University of Chicago, and in 2005 at the Centre d’art contemporain, Geneva.