Dadamaino (Eduarda Emilia Maino, dite)

19302004 | Milan, Italy
Dadamaino (Eduarda Emilia Maino, dite) — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Dadamaino in her study

Italian painter.

Dadamaino’s friend, the artist Piero Manzoni, commented on her artistic aims in the catalogue accompanying a solo exhibition of her work in Padua in 1961, saying that she had overcome the “problem of painting” and that other parameters informed her work. She believed her works were the flags of a new world; they did not just “say something different”, they also said something new. Ten years earlier, Eduarda Emilia Maino (who became Dadamaino following an error in the catalogue for an exhibition in the Netherlands in 1961) began working as a self-taught painter. Her encounter with the work of Lucio Fontana, the father of Spatialism, led her towards a form of art that she conceived as a radical plunge into space and other possible dimensions. In the city of Milan, which had connections with the Paris art scene and was open to cultural exchanges with the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark, artists began to look at hitherto unknown formal solutions and experimental techniques.

Dadamaino’s series “Volumi” [Volumes], dating from the late 1950s, are monochrome canvases punctured by elliptical holes, a form of conceptual exploration into the depth of the canvas. Her “Volumi a moduli sfasati” [Volumes with out-of-phase modules] feature thin overlapping plates of Rhodoid plastic, with each layer slightly shifted to produce a dynamic optical effect. Combining her studies of perception with her interest in geometry – following directly in the footsteps of the Paduan Group N and the Düsseldorf Group Zero – Dadamaino attracted the notice of the European art world with her “Oggetti ottico-dinamici” [Optical-dynamic objects] and “Oggetti visivi instabili” [Unstable visual objects], which were shown at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris in its 1964 exhibition of new international visual trends entitled Nouvelle Tendance: Propositions visuelles du mouvement international. In these works, she placed small aluminium plates, arranged according to size and based on precise mathematical calculations, onto nylon wires to create the optical effect of circular shapes. She explained that the resulting square and rectangular surfaces take on the appearance of semi-spheres with an elusive dynamic, adding that although static, the object appears to be in a constant state of motion and transformation.

After experimenting with aluminium, plastic, and Plexiglas, she went on to produce series such as “Ricerca del colore” (Research into colours), a chromatic combination of different colours of the spectrum based on a predetermined number of variations, and “Fluorescenti” [Fluorescents], created by sticking fluorescent strips onto a monochrome base, so that they took shape through the vibrations of the plastic and the effects of ultraviolet rays. She described the result as “lumino-kinetic”. She remains unforgettable for her obstinate and tireless exploration of the surface as a threshold, something that is crossed, while also opening up all sorts of possibilities. This is demonstrated in series such as “Inconscio razionale” [Rational unconscious] and “Alfabeto della mente” [Alphabet of the mind], in which calligraphic signs record oscillations of thought, brain patterns, pulses, and falls. The result is works that are both rigorous and lyrical.

Chiara Gatti

Translated from French by Thames & Hudson Ltd.

As published in Women in Abstraction © 2021 Thames & Hudson Ltd, London

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