Judith Kentish
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"Tender: a conversation of making, touching and naming" Daniel Mafe, Mazamet, France, 01-08-2016


Tender: a conversation of making, touching and naming


ideas hang around images like shadows.–  Sam Francis


Silence is not silence, but a limit of hearing. –  Jane Hirshfield


In this exhibition nothing is quite what it seems. Objects, although easily recognised in themselves quickly elude simple naming.  


wool mound: a vigil


working time

rendered concrete, substantial

material shapes

of time, teased

like wool

                                                                                                                           into mounds

two mounds

                                                                                                                                                         each subsiding,

  like sighs


into themselves, compressed


and all the while

the sound of wool


and teased


Maybe it is more accurate to see the works in this exhibition as uncanny material organisations that seem to emanate albeit softly, gnomic utterances like some ancient oracle.


woven drops


gravity stretched, knitted cylinders



and unravel into strands

of yarn


in touch

with one another

and the floor


Each gesture, each thing, each spatial placement and relationship both camouflages and yet reveals an apparent complexity that resolves into profoundly sensual yet cerebral paradox, a meditation on tending.


ink drops: the viewing


a film of viewing


and of holding

between crackling intervals of paper

thin thunder


each act, of repeated

    veiling and unveiling


one after the other



Seven separate bodies of work are the material markers, the artworks, that make up this exhibition. These works are embedded with a subtle but uncompromising precision in the exhibited space, the architecturally framed void that is the gallery.




wool (a cloud)

cupped in cotton

times three

each held

in tender lip folds

small offerings

framed in patterned

and draped


ink bloomed



Each of the artworks both exemplifies and participates in what is primarily a material conversation. To really see this work is to be confronted with that fact. To understand this work is to imagine or to attune to its making, to allow the sensuality of the materials to speak.




blotted and stained

writing as an overflow

of ink, fat-spilt


all a pattern flutter


as though

to a breeze


As a viewer one must seriously tend to this work and to the thoughts that then emerge from this tending. This work is an invitation to an engaged and prolonged act of contemplation.




exclamation as sigh

wall held slung-weight

all in ink drenched

cotton-cradle swath


And the core of this contemplation is the very act of tending itself. It is an act defined by care and deep attention. In this way we can begin to follow in the footsteps of the artist and can start to understand her scrupulous and profoundly rigorous respect for the materials and how they perform.




gravity, pooled


into ink stained, ponder

an invitation

a pond-shroud of description

embodied hints


each fat and full


This work so silent, distilled, and materially specific, invites even demands words but words, as performing descriptions, stretched  

                            in a spreading map

                                         of pale-coloured sound

                           which echoes or performs

                                         a tending to



To describe this work, to attend to this work is to veer towards wonder, that profoundly open-gazed suspension of judgement and that opens one to the insight that the gaps between the works are as much the work as the objects themselves. The material or concrete objects in this show activate the intervals between themselves, the so called empty spaces. And so it is that these ‘empty’ spaces become ‘material’ markers of an attentive silence that is the necessary ground of tending itself.


This is an articulate silence, an embodied concrete silence, where silence performs as intensity. It means, and in meaning it impresses itself upon us. Silence and space are one, allowing for the surrender to the emerging of possibilities latent in the work. To hear these possibilities we ourselves must tend the work as the artist herself has so very tenderly.


                 we have here

                                      a conversation of making


                                    a profound mastery

                                       of the grammar of interval

                                   of punctuated space

                                    and articulated silence


                                                   here is a constellation

                                  a gesture towards definition

                                         a weighting finally

                                                       of tending


                                                       the gravity

                                        of an ever deepening




Daniel Mafé

Mazamet, France