Regina Hadraba
Mag. Sonja Traar

Regina Hadraba’s current exhibition presents new works by the artist which have been created within the past year. It shows a segment of her work which revolves around the literary phenomenon of the Tenzone. Tenzone are pairs, triplets and multiplications of sonnets which fight with one another (intellectually contrasting with the vocal and physical power of their authors). Topics of this fight are the art of poetry, followed by love, and the point and meaning of sonnet-writing generally. To medieval minds, Tenzone referred as much to an armed conflict between knights, as to the notorious Two Hearts beating (against each other) in one breast.

Who are the two knights wrestling with each other in Hadraba’s works ? They are two heroines of art : drawing and painting. Classic, one may think, yet in the artist’s works, the two disciplines’ disputing, arguing, ruffling and wishing to put the other off, has developed into a creative process of work arising out of the context. The observer experiences present-day literature - which goes hand in hand with an artistic stream which, fed by texts, swells up and finally passes by with pictures - as a mental atmosphere charged with positive energy, in which what has been read swings soberly-functionally and yet also imaginatively. This mental space is the fighting-ground for the dispute between painting and drawing. Both methods occur forcefully in the new works, without forming layers over each other. They are knotted to each other. Even as she applies the red, orange and yellow colours with sponges and rollers, the artist is also thinking of the later possibilities for the drawing. The fight is about the naked presence of colour and line, which are still claiming for themselves the right to retain unreservedly their respective characters. These include the occurrence of running drops of colour, leaks and velvety strands of the black lines, none of them wanting to achieve effects which are theirs, as such.
After the lines have been placed on the painting by means of monotype (black oil-paint is applied to the canvas through a fine cloth mesh), the final step in the artistic process is achieved : unrepeatably and unchangeably, uniquely and with great inner vigour, the artist’s finished pictures appear - like a knife-cut by Lucio Fontana through the canvas, for which he has been most strenuously concentrating for several hours in front of the canvas. The moment has arrived in the creation of Hadraba’s picture when both knights press their shields against each other and fall down exhausted. This final moment is also a moment of “putting right“ in the artist’s mind. Viewed from a sober distance, beauty, destructive elements, and mutual cooperation and conflict of forms are brought into a precisely balance measure. This equilibrium reflects a sonnet by Dante, written around 1300 AD :

    From "The New Life"  

    Love has so long possessed me for his own
    And made his lordship so familiar
    That he, who at first irked me, is now grown
    Unto my heart as its best secrets are.
    And thus, when he in such sore way does mar
    My life that all its strength seems gone from it,
    My inmost being then feels thoroughly quit

    Of anguish, and all evil keeps afar.
    Love also gathers to such power in me
    That my sighs speak, each one a grievous thing,
    Always soliciting

    My lady's salutation piteously.
    Whenever she beholds me, it is so,
    Who is more sweet than any words can show.
    (translation byDante Gabriel Rossetti, 1861)

Elements of drawing in Hadraba’s works are, without exception, abstract, just like the eruptive painting. One may be reminded very remotely of shapes, never landscapes. The high intellectual and auratic element of abstraction tells of concentration. It likewise tells of a necessary shortening of the signs which live out their whole explosive power in this way. The technique of monotype creates distance from the almost burning foundation. Tubular lines, which remind one of snapped or bundled reeds, appear by contrast to be touched by a cooling wind. Regina Hadraba is, herself, also someone who is not easily to be bent or categorised. With a playful feeling of her way, challenges and a certain mischievousness, she leads one into a labyrinth, the way out of which one can only find after some involvement with the artist. At the end, there appears a multitude of threads, sounds and voices which converge on a central point and result in stylistically confident, aesthetically very highly demanding and remarkable works.