From incongruous floral arrangements to Art Deco-esque furniture, contemporary artist Maria Loboda's sculptures, installations, and design objects explore relationships between material objects and their assigned meanings.Read More
Born in Krakow, Poland in 1979, Maria Loboda was raised in Germany from the age of nine and began making art as a teenager. From 2003–8, Loboda studied fine art under British artist Mark Leckey, at the Städelschule art academy in Frankfurt. Following that, she attended New York University's Steinhardt School of Culture.
In Maria Loboda's early work, the artist examines how language takes on material form. The floral installation A Guide to Insults and Misanthropy (2004 and 2012), for example, played on the symbolic connotation of flowers. The arrangement of blooms in the work conveys negative emotions such as 'boredom (onion flower) and anticipation (gooseberry), hatred (basil) and disdain (yellow carnation).' Loboda has repeated and expanded on this floral motif several times throughout her career, while also expanding into new mediums and materials.
Maria Loboda's artworks examine and redeploy old symbols and iconography in a conceptual approach branded 'contemporary archaeology'. Rooted in the inquiry of semiotics into how signs and symbols create meanings, her works create new associations, and subversive and critical narratives from those material symbols.
Loboda speaks through a variety of materials and formats including sculpture, objects, installations, illustrations and audio recordings. The artist once explained her diversity of mediums, saying 'I am sort of fearful about becoming professional in any craft. I prefer to be a visitor, who doesn't speak the language particularly well, but understands enough to knowingly misapprehend.'
Loboda also draws inspiration from expansive research into poetry, literature, obscure history, and contemporary culture. One can find references in her work to an array of ideas as diverse as Art Deco, alchemy, mythology, historic military formations, the occult, and Iggy Pop.
Examinations of spiritual themes remains an ongoing motif in Loboda's work. The floor installation What Will Happen? (2007), for example, comprises a dark, wooden parquet disrupted by bright elements which form the signs and symbols from I-Ching—an ancient Chinese book of divination.
Offering a condensed index of many signs and symbols across time, the vast wall installation An Exceptional and Rare Wall Frieze in the Scythian Style (2020) presents an anachronistic collection of etched sgraffito drawn from various cultures, including vandals' engravings found on Egyptian pyramids and Greek temples, writings from Pompeii, and offensive contemporary graffiti from Parisian streets.
Several of Maria Loboda's works explore the theme of unfulfilled endeavours through the associations of arranged objects. Her 2019 'Lord of Abandoned Success' series, for instance, presents a set of seemingly unfinished artworks; in one work, wet clay sits on sculptors' stands wrapped in plastic film and clothing awaiting the artist's return.
Since Guide to Insults and Misanthropy, nature has been a recurring theme in Loboda's practice. At documenta 13 in 2012, the artist presented This work is dedicated to an emperor (2012)—a durational piece featuring more than a dozen potted cypress trees which were daily moved across the lawn in historic military formations. For Yorkshire Sculpture International 2019, Loboda created several 1920s French-style lamps, each holding several insects, in reference to the implications and shortcomings of collecting specimens for preservation.
Maria Loboda's solo exhibitions include Listen to me, little pig! Galerie Thomas Schulte, Berlin (2021); Her Dark Materials, Wschód, Warsaw (2020); Sitting Here As Bored As A Leopard, Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw (2019); Havoc in the Heavenly Kingdom, Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland (2017); Some weep, some blow flutes, The Power Plant, Toronto (2016); Dead Guardian, Kunstverein Braunschweig, Germany (2014); and Las fieras, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (2013).
Maria Lodoba's group exhibitions include Sculpture & Nature, Sculpture Park Schloss Schwante, Oberkrämer, Germany (2020); May You Live in Interesting Times, 58th Venice Biennale (2019); Oh that I had a thousand tongues, Cultural Foundation of Tinos, Greece (2018); Days are Dogs, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2017); Archeology of Memory, Sorø Kunstmuseum, Denmark (2013); Soundworks, The Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (2012); New Frankfurt Internationals: Stories and Stages, Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt (2010).
Michael Irwin | Ocula | 2021