Open 13 February 2019
Ventique Art Gallery – 77 Lots Road, Chelsea, London SW10 0RN
A contemplation of the night sky is at the centre of the STARGAZE: contemplating the Majestic exhibition. Through these sculptural pieces, the artist celebrates the wonders of the universe as seen by the human eye. Matt Marga was inspired by the beautiful yet largely undiscovered phenomenon that is the Milky Way Galaxy. Concerned about the decline of our dark sky due to light pollution, he has re-imagined a night sky that is completely black, unspoiled by city lights.
Crystal and glass are suspended within the pieces of work, creating a condensed view into infinity; intimate yet cosmic, merging science with beauty and mystery. Each piece is individually crafted by hand: glass is melted and shaped, with crystals laid onto the molten surface. Once dry, the crystals appear embedded into the glass, suspended inside, drawing parallels with the stars suspended in the night sky.
Different hues of glass as the night sky, crystals acting as shining stars in shimmering constellations, each piece hovers in front of the wall, adapting to its colour and playing with a new dimension below the transparent glass surface. The success of Marga’s technique can be measured by the resemblance of his works to the real Milky Way: photographs of which are presented in this catalogue, shot in optimal clarity conditions.
Each sculpture takes its name from a galaxy, constellation or star – the Italian translation adding an air of intrigue to the artwork, a nod to Marga’s heritage. The Stargaze collection captures the awe and wonder surrounding the night sky. In doing so, the work simultaneously draws attention to the concern of overlighting, something which affects eighty percent of the world population living under the skyglow.
As a child growing up in the Italian alps, Matt Marga went out hunting for crystals. Drawn by the idea of finding something precious that no-one else had ever seen, he would struggle down from the mountainside with a knapsack filled with stones. Once home he would carefully hammer them apart, eager for a glint in the dark rock, his personal discovery of the beauty hidden away by nature.
What we experience in the London Geodes event is the recreation of that sense of secret wonder, revealed by the complex geometric planes of Marga’s pieces. He mines the seams of geology to explore the fascination of geodes, apparently nondescript stones containing fairy-tale hollows lined with quartz crystals, agate, jasper or amethyst.
In a natural geode, hollows created by bubbles of air and gas under pressure in lava gradually solidify and fill with an infinitely slow deposit of minerals, encrusting the surface of the cavity with crystals. The London Geodes capture both the characteristic profile of a crystal – flat faces with sharp angles – and its highly ordered atomic structure. This severity plays out against scintillating crystal interiors which irresistibly pull the viewer towards these wall-hung sculptural works.
Informed by his architectural background, Marga utilises techniques that combine the precision of laser cutting alongside cold metal casting, LED technology and hand finishing to produce his distinctive high relief pieces.
“While natural geodes are typically found scattered across a desert,” the artist explains, “these works are statements for our urban habitat, with their polished metal surfaces and high-spec construction. They are built and made in London, where I live and work. I am drawn by the way that different metals work in our modern environment. The light that I place within the geodes creates endless possibilities, like great cities which are full of surprises and moments of unexpected beauty.”
As Marga builds up his pieces, angles and facets are first sketched at random on paper by hand. But the movement from sketch to sculpture is achieved through absolute precision, since the inner geometry of the geode must be exact. Beneath the peaks and valleys of the outer structure lies a strictly organised architecture of perpendicular supports cut by laser to within a fraction of a millimetre. There is no space for error. The mathematics of nature are recruited to bring harmony and balance to the finished work.
Slashed across this landscape is a lightning bolt of shimmering crystals. As the viewer approaches, the gallery darkens, and the shell of the work falls back into shadow, leaving only a glowing streak in a split rock. Light and colour glisten from the fracture, revealing the internal mystery of the geode to the observer. “What we see here on the surface is only a partial manifestation, leaving us to imagine the treasure that continues within,” says Marga.
With the changing perception of light falling across the countless surfaces, no two viewers will experience these unique and complex works in the same way.
London Geodes Collection