Laura Vecere
L'arte della scienza ovvero la scienza dell'arte (La Luna)
The Moon

Il volto nascosto del giardino
The hidden face of the garden

Amnon Barzel
La natura vista attraverso la trasparenza dei polimeri
Nature seen through the delicate transparency of the polymers

Giuliano Serafini
Ipotesi spirituale
Intimations of Spirituality

Patrizia Landi
Artisti in Viaggio 1997

Lara Vinca Masini
Artisti in Viaggio 1998

Carlo Sisi
Reliquiari cosmici
Cosmic reliquaries

Lorenzo Bruni
So quello che hai fatto

The hidden face of the garden

Between permanence and mutation
The garden is the habitat, the metaphorical/real territory from which the artistic work of Donatella Mei draws its natural nourishment. A private observatory, a no-man's land in which man's plans, in the fixity of a design, together with cyclical - but also capricious - mutation of seasonal transformations meet and intertwine. An interior landscape in which the external world is mirrored, a place in which to be rooted, from which to observe and operate.
Cennino Cennini, in his essay on painting written at the end of the 15th century mentioned the way in which mountains were normally portrayed from nature in the studios of the time: "If you want to get a good manner of mountains, so that they may appear natural, take some large rough rocks which are not clean and portray them from nature just as they are, giving them dark and light shades just as you see fit (C. Cennini, "The book of Art or treatise on painting", 16th century, curated by F. Tempesti, Milan, Longanesi, 1984). Setting aside for now the historical implications linked to the development of artistic post-Giotto and proto-Renaissance theory, we can trace in this observation the seed, the first root of a system of observation set up by Donatella Mei, a "looking through": which is the same as saying looking at the world by means of a fragment of it in superimposition, which sets up with the former a principle of analogy. Here is how, by means of observation, the nearby microcosm opens in transparency to provide visibility to the macrocosm enclosed within it. <...> Every observation made by Donatella Mei concerning the garden resolves itself into an exercise of overtaking the thing observed. The hedge is a conductor leading to the wood, the tub of water is a means of travelling towards the distant, remote, mobile, fluctuating and transmuting waters of the sea. Water as conductor insinuates itself, rises up and transforms, nourishes, absorbs and melts. Water which in winter freezes, engulfs and consumes fragments of vegetation and composes with it involuntary manneristic representations. Figures that together with the labyrinth are the topoi around which the work of Mei revolves.
The exercise of designing through which rhythmic evocations of hedges, forests, aquatic movements transpire, become established in a practice which from Cézanne on can no longer sustain the theory of a design which having had its origin in the intellect stops the form of bodies with a line. For Donatella Mei design becomes rather the registration of a vagary of forces that expand and send out offshoots in all directions. More than coming together as the shell of a form the design suggests a bearing, a direction towards which the image tends, while colour, when it is present, flows autonomous as a surface. Such an operational modality can be set alongside Fernando Melani's sysmographic practice. However, if in Melani the registration of vibrations heads an aggregate of signs that send up energetic fields, non-figurative "nature", in Donatella Mei the work on design collocates itself a moment before, which is to say on the extreme limit of the relation that ties it to the image or, vain other words, stops itself on the threshold of representation. In this gap is grafted the enquiry which the artist has conducted on translucent materials (from photocopies to acetates and plexiglass), grafting a process of manipulation and modification of the initial design, reiterated, prolonged, cut and remounted. The transparent materials, used in this way, displace the sign in a drifting of "abstract" rhythms that however do not lose their original organic veining so much as transport it beyond a concluded image. Transparent materials are accelerators in a process of allowing the gaze to cross through. By means of it the artist proceeds along a path that, starting from what is natural, moves away in order to find it again after the image is crossed through and dismantled.
The symbol of a journey of physical-spiritual research, the labyrinth is a topos of the garden. Its figure designed in the pavements of the cathedral and represented in the humanistic garden repeats, up to the 18th century in which it is introduced, the use of uninterrupted paths, a model whose origin is a sinuous, twisting dance that artificially prolongs an itinerary which wraps itself around into circular spirals, provoking a movement in which the dimension of time is suspended. The labyrinth is also the mythical construction created by Dedalus in order to enclose the secret of the Minotaur from which the hero Theseus can not extract himself unless guided by Arianna's thread. A fine thread is in fact that what guides the path of changes to the image in the work of Donatella Mei. This is an image that can be read as making its way from deep waters through states and transformations, working its way through with the extreme energy of weak things, rising up through capillaries along very narrow channels, winding along tortuous paths, coming out in the form of a shoot, a leaf, a flower and, like all rising forces, tending towards the light.

Laura Vecere, 2003