Yōki

Marta Font Kaplan Projects
December 2023

The Japanese word yōki o youki, has a meaning similar to a container which stores volatile substances.

The cycles of nature, working hands-on, the mountains of la Sierra de Tramuntana and family memory, are the basis of Marta Font’s latest artistic project.

Influenced by Eastern thought and its aesthetics, her work is related to a concept that is not easily defined or translated -wabi-sabi- a way of understanding beauty where you value simplicity, imperfection, austerity, impermanency or the transiency of objects and the acceptance of the effects of ageing and the forces of nature, that incorporates her way of creating according to her Mediterranean roots.

In a culture that is progressively more addicted to alogarithms, screens and endless technological advances, Marta chooses to work with materials like clay, old lino textiles or natural cotton paper, using techniques like manual modelling, collage, or pen drawing, in a declaration of principles and goals.

Her practice is one of being guided through performative techniques based on repetition and direct contact with materials, where she searches for a meditative state that provides a mental state of courage and a silence that allows to listen to oneself and to nature.

The cycles of nature are reflected in the work processes of Marta Font. The three series or sets that form the expositive proposal, with diverse and complementary disciplines, are also by themselves a vital circle where they feed on each other in the same way that life feeds her work and vice versa.

Yōkis (series)

This series, which gives the title to the exhibition, is formed by two ceramic pieces that invoke shapes found in nature. At the same time, the processes from nature inspire the process of the artworks. Each piece comes to life at the hands of a yōki (container) of emotions: sounds-silences, shapes, scents and textures. The ceramic pieces are presented in their primal form and thus to be able to better appreciate them, we require all our senses to take them in. You don’t find excesses of colours or striking ornaments in the artworks. Their form is pure simplicity. They radiate calm and serenity. Far from searching an admiring contemplation, they are objects that invite us to the secretive action of touch, smell and sound.

The ceramic pieces are burnished without the use of engobes[1] or varnishes, with glass from the artisanal manufacture Lafiore of blown glass, where Marta has her workshop. They are elaborated with soil from the island. In Mallorca, there is few quality terrain for the fabrication of ceramics. There is an arduous investigative work of these materials, primarily in la Sierra de Tramuntana, with results that are appreciated in the artworks, where soils have been used from S’Estaca (Valldemossa), combined with those of Petra.

All processes are completed manually, with a modelling technique as to maintain and organic state, and it presents an imperfect aspect. The pieces are the fruit of a performative action created through repetition, where she attempts to reach a meditative state and inner peace.

Matrices (arrays)

A set of pieces that can be described as mix media collages. They are the templates that Marta has used to define the shapes of the ceramics. Taken from different peaks of la Sierra de Tramuntana (Massanella, Puig Major, sa Mola, sa Rateta, Puig des Tossals Verds, es Teix, Agulla des Frare…), the collages are created with Japanese cotton paper, silk paper and pen drawings. They appear as silhouettes surrounded by line traces, the curves of topographic map levels, of which follow the outline of the paper’s bas-relief, that has been hand-drawn. These arrays transport us to an invented archipelago, to an imaginary catalogue of islands with irregular and organic forms that both speak and reveal of a fluid creative process.

Puntades de fil. Munts de puntades (Thread stitches. Many stitches)

Two antique linen fabrics, of considerable dimensions that are embroidered in red cotton thread, are some of the most emotive pieces of Marta’s project.

Theirs is a tribute to all women of her family, women made invisible who dedicated their lives to making and taking care of, that were never recognized. Women that often resorted to embroidery in their difficult times.

These old family legacy fabrics are the background where she depicts, with embroidery as a technique, the vital cycle of the forest. The tree leaves turned into piles fallen on the earth, feeding it and creating the sustenance needed to give life to the forest so it may start again.

Stitch by stitch, embroidering with cotton thread, the drawing of mounds of pine needles surge in a repetitive and performative act, not created by a preconceived design, but rather because of a meditative act, that is dependant on the emotional tone of the moment, which turns into forms that are dense or open.

Text by Francesc X. Bonnín

[1]Clay paste that is applied to ceramic objects, before cooking, to give them a smooth and glazed surface.

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