“All things /
/ are in communication through the totality of their forms“
Fiama Hasse Pais Brandão
We know that sculpture is defined through its relationship with space. The sculptor cannot fail to consider the spatial limits in which his piece is going to be shown and where it is submitted to questioning gaze of the beholder in search of an interpretation.
“More than cutting into the material, I now use the material as if cutting through space” (Carl André). This statement, which may seem surprising, explains the spatial appropriation of a movement that the sculptor’s work always implies.
It is not only about shaping a material block, the sculptural gesture implies the wise use of space that shrinks or expands, according to the subtle changes that are imposed by prescient hand (ordering action) of the artist.
As we walk through the pleasant property where she lives and works daily – the Quinta do Barrieiro – which is located within the natural park of Serra de São Mamede, we are immediately confronted with the fact that Maria Leal da Costa has achieved to create figures full of meaning that challenge us through their physical and conceptual space.
Countless pieces are spread across the courtyards and meadows, generating multiple readings of the space and establishing intense links between the natural and the built, to the point where these levels are no longer contradictory.
The synthesis thus achieved reminds us of concepts that are cherished in land art, namely in the emphasis given to the artistic dimension of the landscape, which is understood as the space of intervention where the artist’s work is integrated into.
Power would invoke the same way, the notion of “expanded field” proposed by Rosalind Krauss, established based on the assumption that the boundaries between sculpture, architecture and landscape are to become increasingly flexible, allowing a fertile contamination between these disciplines.
The new balance of various elements of architecture, sculpture, and nature has been achieved here thanks to her patient and careful human intervention. We can better understand the dynamics of Maria Leal da Costa´s work in the multitude of spatial strategies exploited by her over time. The conception and execution of her works, the steps taken in the outline of a progressively more personal language, the preference for certain aesthetical options derive from this deeprooted space where nature reigns with its very own laws and rhythms.