Inspiration, colour and Renewal in Europe.
July 9, 2022
In the Springtime I went to see the 59th Venice Biennale. I went after just completing an exciting programme for artists and curators called ACT and so I felt invigorated and excited to see so much art from all around the world, especially after such a long time of looking at things online and the awful political situation. It also felt so important to go to experience Europe again.
The Main show “The Milk of Dreams” was I thought both revelatory and fascinating, drawing links and focusing as it did with some women (especially forgotten ) surrealist artists whom over time and until now have been overlooked.
Of the pavilions, I particularly loved the Belgian one by Francis Alÿs centring on wonderful films of children’s games and his most delicate paintings and sketches and I enjoyed also the visceral Romanian Pavillion “Cathedral of the Body” by the artist/ filmmaker Adina Pintilie . I loved the powerful Stan Douglas offsite project which contained two films simultaneously playing two forms of music, which grew at the same time from times of upheaval in the world. Playing together it was difficult to distinguish the differences between the two separate performances. Such an intelligent and important artist. I also found great resonance within my own practice where discordant noise generates imagery simultaneously with the Australian Pavillion where Marco Fusinato is playing 200 performances throughout the duration of the Biennale, relating well to the groundbreaking work in the main show by Lillian Schwartz.
I also enjoyed the Armenian Pavillion by artist/sound artist Andrius Arutiunian which had a hand made Vinyl record playing mystically and continuously in a beautiful and humble space near the Arsenale.
One of my personal highlights also, was the huge installation for the Italian pavilion “History of Night and Destiny of Comets” by Gian Maria Tosatti which seemed to perfectly encapsulate the mood of the desolate times we are in, situated as it was in a huge empty seemingly redundant space at the Arsenale, with its ghostly and evocative use of factory equipment within vast vaulty spaces. Finally, One of the most inspirational shows by young artists was called Penumbra by the Fondazione In between Art and film and takes place within the Complesso Dell’Ospedaletto with a group including Aziz Hazara and Karimah Ashadu curated wonderfully by Alessandro Rabottini.
I hope to go back again before it finishes and urge anyone to go. There is so much inspiration to find.
I also visited Paris a few weeks ago and managed to get to see the amazing Louis Vuitton Foundation for the first time. Not only is the amazing Frank Gehry building a great architectural revelation, but the exhibitions on colour that were inside too. The title of the main show, which continues to the 28/08/2022 is the Synaesthetic “Fugues in Colour”. The fugue describes musically about how musical patterns talk to each other, and where themes develop and connect. A while ago, I painted with a Quartet to Fugue music by Bach, Handel and Kurtag. A perfect title for these impressive connecting installations by the wonderful and recently departed Sam Gilliam and ambitious space painting by Megan Rooney, with other great painters Niele Toroni and Katrina Grosse which seemed to go wonderfully within the lofty Gehry architectural spaces. This show went terrifically well with a larger retrospective of the fine and innovative abstract artist Simon Hantai.
Closer to home in the UK I have recently seen great and revelatory shows by Mitt Jai Inn at the Ikon in Birmingham, a wonderful show of Derek Jarman’s profound relationship to the landscape at Southampton, the great colour artist David Batchelor too at Compton Verney, and finally a mournful performance in Homage to Nick Drake nearby his grave, by one of my favourite performance artists Ragnar Kjartansson on a Church Organ, bringing me close to when as a child I started seeing the Colours in the chords of the Organ.