1926 - 1997

Died in BE, born in PL.

Maria Wierusz-Kowalski aka Tapta arrived in Belgium as a political refugee at the age of 18, after the liberation of Warsaw. In 1949 she graduated from the Atelier d'Art du Tissu of the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture et des Arts visuels (La Cambre). At the end of her studies, she moved to Equatorial Africa for ten years. Her stay, during which she experimented with textiles soaked in different materials, profoundly marked her work. She initially dedicated her work to textile creations, sometimes using ropes. Her last major creation in that field was entitled Voûtes flexibles (1983-1985), at the Veeweyde metro station in Brussels.

As of 1980, Tapta made a radical change in her work in order to break away from a praxis that she considered easy, decorative and enclosed in the ‘ghetto’ of textile art. She then chose to challenge industrial materials such as rubber, concrete and sheet metal. Her structures, always black, are cut-out forms that she arranged by exploring space in order to express an energy, a three-dimensional tension. As of 1993, she integrated light into her works in order to play with the contrast between matter and immateriality.

As a defender of a pedagogy that encourages personal initiative, Tapta took over supervision of the Atelier d'Art Textile at the La Cambre Institute in 1976, which she renamed ‘Sculpture souple’ in line with Robert Morris and his ‘Anti Form’, which questions the solid character of contemporary sculpture. She has permanently influenced a whole generation of artists.

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