Triptych for the Duomo of Milan
Kathy Toma has just completed a monumental plastic work. We are delighted that this painting will be exhibited at the Duomo of Milan. By virtue of her research, meditation, knowledge, and finesse, she has once again and single-handedly devoted her energies to a major creation that will leave its mark on our times. It is an honor to be among her contemporaries fortunate enough to witness this event. Indeed, it will refreshingly counter a host of dauberies and spiritless pieces, so-called creative works that have too long defiled the art world. Let us afford ourselves the pleasure of continuing to discover and recognize artists who, body and soul, dedicate themselves to authentic creation.
This composition displays a palette of colors that are dazzling and luminous at times, dark and subdued at others. The transitions from diaphanous white to flaming red, from somber gray to the fiery brightness of royal yellow, spirit us away from intellectualizing into the universe of Hugo’s La Légende des siècles, as well as that of Milton’s Paradise Lost, amidst the subliminally-felt presence of Dante’s Inferno. However, we should not cling to reminiscences, mere first impressions that are quickly transcended by the complex nature of this work and the multiple effects it produces. It is common knowledge that Kathy Toma is a “possessed” artist who embodies and communicates her own vision of human destiny. Straightaway, she propels us into a future world of scientific research conjured from avant-garde cosmography and synthetic images of the ramifications of the human brain. Who else but Kathy Toma could give substance to this painting by drawing inspiration from the German abbess Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179), as well as present-day studies of a Harvard professor?
This artist consolidates the most recent scientific advances at both cosmic and anthropological levels by projecting onto canvas, plaster, and marble powder her fascination with the infinite and the scientific mind alike, tirelessly opening doors of human knowledge. Angel faces float among her planets, already familiar presences in her past work that guide us toward an overall comprehension of the artist’s trajectory. Here, an eschatological dimension layers the depiction of these recognizable figures from her pictorial universe. In the foreground, man is reborn from a reclining Adam through the Tree of Knowledge that coexists with the flaming path that leads us out of death into a promised redemption. The strength of the artist lies in her capacity to transport us into a syncretism that fulfills our whole being: at a physical level, with its colors, intellectually, through its symbols, and spiritually, in its resolved aporias.
What critical analysis would take pains to suggest, express, make clear, and justify, Kathy Toma offers us in a single painting that is grandiose and humble, erudite and radiant. The triptych of this artist is one of those essential works that condenses the aspirations of a distinct epoch in its visions of all times and infuses with undiminished life the contradictory hopes of mankind that elicit limitless reflection and meditation.
Yvon Birster, Galerie la Rotonde, Paris (on Facebook)
Translation by Virginia Larner