BIO

Maria Positano

Maria Positano (born in London, 1995) is a multidisciplinary artist living and working in London. Neapolitan of origin, Maria has lived in Mexico City, France, US, UK and Italy, permeating their work with multiple cultural influences. 

The artist completed her BA (Hons) in Sculpture at The City and Guilds of London Art School in 2018 where she awarded the C&G Sculpture Prize. In 2024 she won the Gilbert Bayes Award and in the summer of 2023 she completed his master’s degree at the Royal College of Arts. Her work has been shown internationally and acquired in private collections in the UK and Italy. She was recently awarded the Gilbert Bayes Award 2024, at The Royal Society of Sculptors. Positano is this year’s awardee of the STC x RCA Air 2023, a 1 year artist in residence solo award at South Thames College London. In addition to this, she has participated in other residencies in the past: Mason&Fifth x Hyphastudios in London and ViaFarini.org in Milan, IT.

Major solo exhibitions: A perfect place, Studio Block M74, Mexico City (2022); Take me Somewhere Nice, Lockbund Gallery, Oxfordshire (2020); Making Meaning, Subsidiary Project, London (2018).

Major group exhibitions: Studio Responses #4, Saatchi Gallery, London (2023); Matter, Flowers Gallery, London (2023); Nascosti alla luce del sole, Nashira Gallery, Milan (2023); Felt cute, might delete later, Arusha Gallery, London (2023); Beyond the matter, Galerie Der Kunsler Innen, Munich (2023); Soft Monuments, Frestonian Gallery, London (2023); 2for1, Thorp Stavri & Haze x Hyphastudios, London (2023); Hung Drawn Quartered, Staffordshire St Studios, London (2023); The Appearance Formula, Andrea Festa Fine Art, Rome (2022); La Camaleona, Galeria 54, Mexico City (2022); One By One, Fiumano Clase, London (2022); Discoveries 2020 – The Biting Point, Fiumano Clase, London (2020).

 

Statement

Maria Positano (shethem) was born in London, is Neapolitan of origin, and growing up has often moved different countries. Maria’s practice features sculpture, installation and two dimensional work.
 
They often start working by looking at Greco-Roman armour suits; with particular interest in the current dynamics of warfare, armour is seen as its prototype and is used by the artist to comment on its inherent values.
 
Historically, armor has been associated with militarism and conquest, symbolising the power and authority of those who possess it. In the context of gender dynamics, this metaphor reflects on the ways in which patriarchal structures perpetuate violence and subjugation, reinforcing hierarchies of power and privilege. The artist believes that challenging and dismantling the metaphorical armor requires addressing the underlying values that it embodies.
 
By crafting armor from paper pulp and up cycled fabrics and clay, the artist subverts expectations of strength and durability associated with conventional armor, furthermore treating the surface to age the materials, making them feel fragile. Instead of relying on physical toughness, the wearer must rely on alternative forms of resilience and adaptability. These body-like hybrids can be seen as different declinations of the artist’s individuality.
 
By queering materials Positano is reimagining their connotations and uses in order to challenge narratives, reinterpreting the meanings and symbolism associated with those materials, all the while creating seductive material illusions.
 
Paper, typically associated with fragility and temporality, is transformed into a form of protection, inviting a reevaluation of what constitutes strength and resilience, challenging binary notions of vulnerability and invulnerability.
 
These ‘reversed armours’ become anthropomorphic bodies and are often gender ambiguous, breasts and legs become protection and armour, reconfiguring the body anatomy itself.
 
The artist sees the practice as a metaphorical exploration of authenticity, vulnerability, and resistance, inviting individuals to assert their agency and reclaim their narratives in the world.
 
Positano works on a sense of humanity in the work, aiming for the viewer to experience the sculptures through their body image, often encourages through mirroring the scale of the body itself.

Exhibitions

Not from this place

Nascosti alla luce del sole

Fairs

ArtVerona 2023

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