Equivalent to today’s online email signatures, repeatedly stamped chops, seals or reign marks historically symbolized power, provenance and spiritual perpetuity.
In Margaret Lanzetta’s new series of paintings Reign Marks, fragmented and reconnected motifs of Roman, Byzantine, and Islamic heritage – timeless symbols of protective powers – are re-interpreted into stamps of imperial identity and distinction.
Further referencing seats of power and grace, harmoniously balanced mosque floor plans are cropped and placed askew into jarringly incomplete visual sentences and spontaneous palimpsests of vegetal and geometric design. These irregular, intricate and rhythmic paintings conjure moments of transformation, spirituality and cultural migration fundamental to the human experience.
The strain between natural and mechanical is emphasized with Lanzetta’s vivid, saturated palette chosen for its spiritual significance; and her techniques of industrial mass reproduction, using digitally manipulated, silkscreen images. Incomplete lines, shifting planes, and trance-inducing repetitions create tension, compression and gaps, inducing the viewer to complete the artwork. This unconscious act — echoed in the interlacing, repeating, and layering in the paintings themselves — creates a reciprocal conversation between audience and artist.
By drawing upon and then visually thwarting harmony, symmetry and symbolic patterns, Lanzetta’s work asks us to consider the brevity of temporal power, the folly of expectations, and our need for faith.
Colette Apelian, Rabat, March 2012
• Leaflet of the exhibition