Maria Stereo

Sweet Melancholy
11 June – 12 September 2021

“Maria Stereo’s visual world is replete with rococo, kitsch and surrealism. The sources of her inspiration are present throughout her work, such as the palace of Versailles and its decorative wallpapers, textures, decorations, objects, ornaments – the same patterns and shapes that have fascinated many a small heart throughout the ages.”

The works on show in the Studio space at Turku Art Museum are made from smashed porcelain and ceramic objects. By breaking figurines of cats, dogs and humans into pieces at random and then reassembling and composing them into artworks, Maria Stereo creates rich assemblages and mosaic reliefs in which cuteness, dreaming and nostalgia combine to form complex symbolism and mysticism. The works have a strong link to the artist’s childhood, to the 1980s when she was a young girl, and the ethos of that era. They bring to the fore memories, emotions, uncertainties, wishes, dreams, beliefs and philosophies of life that are easy to identify with.

Symbolism is present in the material itself, its treatment as well as the motifs. Hard yet brittle, porcelain was once a symbol of rococo refinement, but has now become worthless junk lying abandoned on flea market tables. In Stereo’s hands porcelain breaks down only to be born again in an intuitive, subconscious and magical process. The light-hearted decorativeness and elegant playfulness of rococo acquires more sombre and grown-up tones in Stereo’s work. Ascending from a personal level, the works develop into beautiful illustrations of the fragility and painfulness of human life, the process of resignation and the inevitability of loss.

Maria Stereo (b. 1979) lives and works in Kangasala. She is known for exuberantly decorative and visually innovative works made from recycled materials. She is also a member of the Maria ja Marsialaiset band. Stereo has displayed her work in recent years at Gallery Huuto, Mältinranta Art Centre and Lappeenranta Art Museum. Her most recent public artwork is Timeless, a large cuckoo clock made of bronze that belongs to the collection of Helsinki Art Museum. It was unveiled in 2019.

The exhibition is supported in part by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture.

Quotation: Elissa Määttänen