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May 2019


Hans Op de Beeck

Hans Op de Beeck

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Glasstress project and 30 years of the Berengo studio, the projects born according to the idea of ​​Adriano Berengo with the aim of developing cooperation between famous artists, designers and glass artisans from different countries.

The combination of the conceptual approach of the artists with the technical skill of the masters of Murano has revived and opened the doors to a new chapter of the ancient Venetian tradition, bringing it into the future.

The creation of the Berengo Studio project dates back to 1989, when Adriano Berengo decided to buy out an old glass furnace on the island of Murano – now turned into a evocative exhibition space – in order to cultivate the union between modern art and the ancient glass processing technique.

The inspiration comes from the American movement Studio Glass and from the experiments of Peggy Guggenheim, who, along with Egidio Costantini, the “master of masters” in the art of glassmaking, introduces some great artists of the time, such as Picasso, Arp, Ernst and Chagall, to work with this special material.

Adriano Berengo was inspired by these outstanding precedents, and over 30 years of activity, more than 300 artists have created their works in collaboration with the masters of Murano.

The Glasstress exhibition, which has now become an important event, was born in 2009 as an official side event of the Venice Biennale to share the extraordinary results achieved by this new combination of the two disciplines.

The exhibitions are also held thanks to the contribution of the Berengo Foundation, an institution founded in 2014, supporting the visionary project through side events, including educational initiatives and a rich exhibition program.

On the occasion of the 6th Glasstress exhibition, one of its sections is devoted to the most important projects and works historically relevant to the project from its inception to the present day.

The retrospective curated by Kohen Vanmechelen, reproposes the works of so renowned international artists as Jaume Plensa, Mat Collishow, Erwin Wurm, Tracey Emin and Jan Fabre, and is flanked by a special project by visual artist Robert Wilson.

The main section “How Glass Changes Our Perception of Space”, curated by Brazilian artist Vik Muniz, presented in turn at the exhibition with a hyper-realistic self-portrait, shows artists, both displayed in previous editions, and artists invited for the first time. Among the big names returning are Ai Weiwei, Laure Prouvost, Tony Cragg, Thomas Schütte and Joana Vasconcelos, while among the newcomers Carlos Garaicoa, José Parlá, Rose Wylie and Prune Nourry emerge.

Some of the new projects presented in this edition are related to the theme of ecology and the relationship between man and nature, as the works of Prune Nourry, Pablo Reinoso and Valeska Soares, who – with different results and methods – have drawn inspiration from the city of Venice, to raise the problem of pollution and climate change.

Other artists, such as José Parlá and Monica Bonvicini, have instead focused on political and social issues: the Cuban artist refers to the features of glass – a fragile but sharp material – to speak about recent political events and reflect on the weakness of human being.

Monica Bonvicini, an artist born in Venice and ra winner of the Golden Lion at the 48th Biennale in 1999, crystallizes in this material the violence of an act of attack, a metaphor for the fight against abuse of women and any kind of aggression.

The various activities of the Foundation are also closely related to the Venice Biennale not only in terms of related activities and cooperation: some of the works created in the Berengo laboratories are an integral part of the projects presented by some national pavilions in the framework of this 58th edition.

These are the glass sculptures created by Laure Prouvost for the French Pavilion, and the 300 roses that make up the installation of Renata Bertlmann, the first female artist to represent Austria at the Venice Biennale.

Also, the work of blown glass “The Sword in the Rock” (1998), presented by Liliana Moro, one of the three artists representing Italy, has been  created thanks to the Berengo studio.

The Glasstress exhibitions have been presented in museums and institutions around the world, including the Makslas Muzejs “Rigas Birža” in Riga, the Millesgården Museum in Stockholm, the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) in New York, the Beirut Exhibition Center (BEC) of Beirut, the London College of Fashion and the Wallace Collection of London, the Ptuj City Gallery of Ptuj, Slovenia.

GLASSTRESS 2019 – List of participating artists

New artists: 13

Saint-Claire Chemin (Brazil), Pedro Friedeberg (Mexico), Carlos Garaykoa (Cuba), Arthur Lescher (Brazil), Prune Nurri (France), José Parlá (United States), Pablo Reinoso (Argentina), Valesca Soares (Brazil), Tim Tate (United States), Valeska Soares (Brazil), Tim Tate (United States), Janaina Tschäpe (Germany), Xavier Weilhan (France), Robert Wilson (United States), Rose Wiley (United Kingdom).

Artists who return with unpublished works: 14

Ai Weiwei (China), Monica Bonvicini (Italy), Tony Cragg (United Kingdom), Shirazeh Houshiary (Iran), Karen LaMonte (United States), Paul McCarthy (United States), Vik Muniz (Brazil), Jaume Plensa (Spain) , Laure Prouvost (France), Thomas Schütte (Germany), Sudarshan Shetty (India), Koen Vanmechelen (Belgium), Joana Vasconcelos (Portugal), Erwin Wurm (Austria).

The big names of the retrospective / Anniversary highlights:

Jean Arp (Germany), Ayman Baalbaki (Lebanon), Miroslaw Balka (Poland), Fiona Banner (United Kingdom), César (France), Jake and Dinos Chapman (United Kingdom), Mat Collishaw (United Kingdom), Tracey Emin (United Kingdom), Jan Fabre (Belgium), Kendell Geers (South Africa), Francesco Gennari (Italy), Abdulnasser Gharem (Saudi Arabia), Michael Joo (United States), Ilya & Emilia Kabakov (Russia / United States), Michael Kienzer (Austria ), Hye Rim Lee (South Korea), Oksana Mas (Ukraine), Hans Op de Beek (Belgium), Tony Oursler (United States), Javier Pérez (Spain), Antonio Riello (Italy), Bernardí Roig (Spain), Joyce Jane Scott (United States), Wael Shawky (Egypt), Lino Tagliapietra (Italy), Fred Wilson (United States), Dustin Yellin (United States).


“The shades of the art rainbow are endless: choose your favorite!”



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Street artist on the street

Banksy, the most famous street artist in the world, appears among the Venetian stalls, like any street artist with a hat and a newspaper, and his true identity, as always, remains a mystery.

This time he has exhibited a series of 9 paintings that make up a single image, a view of Venice in the style of “neo-Canaletto”, with a giant cruise liner arriving in the background, a work that poses the problem of rising seas due to global pollution of environment, one of the themes so dear to the artist.

The work entitled “Venice in oil”, as the handwritten sign says, refers to the controversy about the passage of large ships in the Lagoon.

The unexpected installation took place on May 9th this year, coinciding with the 58th Biennale.

“Despite this is the largest and most prestigious art event in the world, for some reason I have never been invited”: this is the provocative message accompanying the video posted on his Instagram account yesterday, Wednesday 22 May.

The video, assembled to perfection between background music, curious tourists and cats, is almost a mini story and raises several questions about the message and makes one think about the real significance of his participation in this event.

The reflection initially involves the theme of environment, and then expands to include a strong criticism of the system of the contemporary art: Banksy asks what is right to authorize and what is not, and what are the criteria for choosing the system.

The poor street artist, lacking the necessary documents, is forced to leave at the request of the municipal police, while a huge cruise ship, harmful to the environment and destroying the landscape, an element of both visual and audial disturbance – is passing quietly and slowly in the background playing his siren.

In Italy the artist has just been celebrated with an unauthorized exhibition at the Mudec of Milan that ended on 4 April. “The Art of Banksy. A Visual Protest ”, the first Milanese exhibition dedicated to the artist from Bristol, was curated by Gianni Mercurio and collected over 70 works including paintings, sculptures, prints, objects, photographs and videos. Divided into 4 sections, the exhibition offered an in-depth view of Banksy’s artistic career, from the first graffiti to curatorial activities such as Dismaland and Walled Off Hotel in Palestine.

“The shades of the art rainbow are endless: choose your favorite!”

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Italian Pavilion

Enrico David
Milovan Farronato
The challenge to the Labyrinth


This is Milovan Farronato (Piacenza 1973 – lives and works in London) the curator appointed to lead the Italian Pavilion at the edition of the 58th Venice Biennale.

Current director and curator of the Fiorucci Art Trust for which he created the Volcano Extravaganza festival held every year in Stromboli since 2011, Farronato has an international profile that boasts excellent collaborations and numerous curators in prestigious public and private spaces, among which the Pomodoro Foundation of Milan, Arario Foundation (Seoul, Beijing, New York), the Serpentine Galleries, the Milan Triennial e la Istanbul Biennial stand out; He followed the artistic direction from 2005 to 2012 of the non-profit space Viafarini and curated it at the DOCVA (Documentation Centre for Visual Arts in Milan).

He has also worked with artists of the calibre of Ugo Rondinone, Yayoi Kusama, Roberto Cuoghi, Katharina Fritsch and Lucy McKenzie; noteworthy resume of a curator who has the appearance of a glam rocker free from various schemes that promises to bring a breath of freshness and internationality into the project.


“The Challenge to the Labyrinth”
is the theme chosen by Farronato to represent Italy: inspired by the essay by Italo Calvino published in 1962, the curator takes up the great symbolic value of the labyrinth to talk about the complex and confusing historical period we are living through.

The labyrinth is a vast literary theme that has inspired mythological stories and fascinated great thinkers like Jorge Luis Borges or, indeed, Calvino.

Venice, with its intricate maze of streets, is a labyrinth city by definition and therefore the perfect setting to stage the indeterminacy and infinite possibilities of life: therefore, in line with the theme of this 58th Biennale “May you live in interesting times”, a title that evokes the feelings of uncertainty and disorder.


The theme was interpreted by three Italian artists of international renown: Enrico David, Liliana Moro and Chiara Fumai who, despite being very different from each other, have artistic paths marked by a strong spirit of research.


Enrico David (Ancona 1966, lives and works in London), had already been invited to the 2013 Biennale by Massimiliano Gioni, on the occasion of which he had brought a large installation composed of paintings, tapestries and sculptures.

More known abroad than in Italy, trained at St. Martins in London, David ranges from painting to drawing, from sculpture to installation, often using traditional craft techniques.

Selected for the Turner Prize in 2009, David has exhibited all over the world: his personal exhibition at the New Museum in New York in 2012 is unforgettable.

In this edition of the Biennale, he will present unpublished works, expressly conceived for the exhibition, and reworked works for the occasion.


Also Liliana Moro (Milan 1961) has already participated in the Biennale while very young, in the Open section of the Biennale curated in 1993 by Achille Bonito Oliva.

Liliana Moro is one of the best-known Italian artists abroad and has had an international career right away.

Her research focuses on the staging of reality in a cruel and poetic vision that combines sculpture, installation, performance, sounds, words, objects.

Among the most important fairs, she participated in Documenta IX Kassel in 1992, in the Open XLV section at the Venice Biennale in 1993.

Liliana Moro will also present the works that have never been exhibited or the works of the past.


Chiara Fumai (Rome 1978 – Bari 2017) will be represented through an unpublished project composed of documents and correspondence.

Her presence can be read as a sort of homage to the artist who died prematurely, among the most promising of the Italian scene.
Chiara Fumai has always favoured performance as an expressive medium, often accompanied by disguises, dj sets; the role of women was one of the main themes, within a strong feminist critique, also in relation to the art system.

She participated in Documenta 13 in Kassel in 2012 and was invited by institutions such as the MAXXI in Rome, the Bevilacqua La Masa Foundation, the Jeu de Paume in Paris.

In 2013 she won the Premio Furla; in 2016 she received an award in the Vaf Prize at the Macro of Rome; in 2017 she won the New York Award.


The layout of the Pavilion and the works on display emphasize the non-linearity of life, the doubt, the intricate trajectories, the disorientation, the complexity of the system of rules that determine space and time and the precariousness of current life.

The public is therefore the true protagonist, the creator of a personal dialogue with the works.

The path is irregular, several exhibitions coexist that leave the visitor free to build his own path, to get lost and even to go the wrong way. At the entrance there are two doors that invite you to the first choice: go to the right or to the left? (On the right a work by Liliana Moro which contains her entire career, left a diorama by Enrico David).

The Italian Pavilion was able to count on the allocation of a budget of 1 million and 300 thousand euros, of which 600 thousand provided by the Ministry and 700 thousand by the sponsors, involved thanks to the mediation of the curator who fielded his collaborations with the major brands of the world of fashion and more. In particular, the presence as main contributor of Gucci, FPT Industrial and Nicoletta Fiorucci Russo, already patron of the Fiorucci Art Trust project directed by Farronato. The technical sponsors are Gemmo, C & C-Milano and Select Aperitivo.

“The shades of the art rainbow are endless: choose your favorite!”

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The Venice Biennale

Biennale di Venezia
The Venice Biennale, founded in 1895 on the initiative of a group of intellectuals, is the oldest biennial art exhibition in the world. Starting from 1930, having become an independent body dedicated to the promotion of new artistic trends, the Biennale began to take on the multidisciplinary character that is still so remarkable of it.

The exhibition immediately became an important opportunity for comparing different countries and a prestigious showcase for the artists invited to take part in it, an indispensable springboard that launched some of the big names that made a contribution to the history of art.

The number of participating nations is always very high, this year they are 90 and among these there are also some new presences: Ghana, Madagascar, Malaysia, Pakistan and the Dominican Republic that participates for the first time with its own Pavilion.

The Venice Biennale is the Exhibition that very well allows to study the artistic currents of the whole world and to put them into dialogue in a single place, able to welcome artists and art lovers from all over the planet, even during a difficult historical period like the one we are experiencing.

It is no coincidence that the title of this 58th edition curated by Ralph Rugoff, “May You Live in Interesting Times”, takes up precisely the climate of uncertainties and great upheavals that are marking the global history.

Rugoff, curator of numerous exhibitions of international artists such as Carsten Holler, Ed Ruschka and George Condo, is the current director of the Hayward Gallery in London, one of the most important public galleries in Great Britain and has also supervised the artistic direction of the XIII Biennial of Lyon (2015).

The interesting theme proposed by Ralph Rugoff allowed the artists to develop different reflections which resulted in not only socio-political interpretations but also wider considerations and new readings of the times we are living, implementing an analysis that is the mirror of an ever-increasing world rapidly evolving, information overload and characterized by a ubiquitous, often alienating technology.

There have been painful and sadly very topical issues, such as the delicate issue of migrants, military conflicts in the Middle East – and beyond – of racism and everything that reflects our times and the precarious aspects of our existence. Some proposed works are an interesting combination of critical thinking and aesthetic pleasure.

An edition with many valid proposals, which sees a strong presence of very young artists (most of them were born after 1980) among which many women appear, for a fresh, effervescent and directly addressing Biennale.

The choice of Rugoff to invite only two Italian artists out of 79 has triggered many controversies, since Italy is the host country, although there are many important names in the international contemporary art scene, they have been excluded from this edition as many renown artists are not present.

Among the many interesting pavilions with high-level artistic proposals, the Golden Lion for the best National Participation was assigned to the Lithuanian Pavilion with the project “Sun & Sea (Marina)”, which was characterized by an experimental performance featuring a sort of tableau vivant, a tribute to the city of Venice and at the same time a reflection on the fragility of man and criticism of leisure and contemporary habits. The work is signed by an all-female artistic trio: Lina Lapelyte, Vaiva Grainyte and Rugile Barzdziukaite.

The Golden Lion for the best participant in the International Exhibition was awarded to Arthur Jafa (USA 1960), an African-American artist who presented the film “The White Album” (2019), a profound reflection on the racial theme that intertwines violence to the detriment of black citizens to an intimate diary in which the artist’s friends and family appear. Jafa is also present in the spaces of the Arsenale with “Big wheel and I” (2018), large sculptures in the shape of a catenate wheel that aim to present the world from the perspective of those who are black.

The artist has exhibited all over the world and in several personal exhibitions including, to name only the most recent, at the ICA in Boston (2018), at the Serpentine Gallery in London (2017), at the MOCA in Los Angeles in 2017 (the city in which Jafa lives), at the Hammer Museum (2016) and in many important collective exhibitions: MCA Chicago (2019), Moma of San Francisco (2018), Dallas Museum of Art (2017).
His final consecration in the Olympus of art took place in 2017 with the film “Love is The Message, The Message Is Death”, a video that talks about African American identity.

The Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement went to Jimmie Durham (Arkansas, USA 1940), American performer, essayist and poet. Durham’s art ranges from design to performance, from collage to sculptures often made with everyday materials, and is characterized by a denunciation of the futility of violence and oppression against ethnic minorities. His works are characterized by a critical but at the same time funny approach, often accompanied by amusing and light texts but functional to a sharp criticism of society.

For Durham it is the sixth participation in the Biennale (the last in 2013) and he has had personal exhibitions in museums around the world including the Hammer Museum Los Angeles (2017-2018), MAXXI Rome (2016), the Serpentine Gallery London (2015).

International exhibitions include, in addition to the Venice Biennale (Editions 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2013), Documenta (1992, 2012), Whitney Biennial of New York (1993, 2003, 2014), Istanbul Biennial (1997, 2013). He has been given important retrospectives at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Antwerp (2012), at the Musee d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris (2009), at the MAC in Marseille and at the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague (2003). In 2017 a new retrospective of his work from the 1970s to the present has been exhibited at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, the Walker Art Centre in Minneapolis, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and the Remai Modern in Saskatoon.

The Silver Lion for a promising young participant in the Exhibition went to Haris Epaminonda (Cyprus 1980), a Cypriot multimedia artist who deals with photography, video and collage. In her installations the artist creates mental routes through the use of images, objects and texts in a delicate intertwining of historical and personal dimensions. Epaminonda has exhibited all over the world, lately she has participated in a group show at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles (2018).

A special mention to the Belgian Pavilion for the project “Mondo Cane” by Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys, which with its mechanical puppets engaged in traditional works now disappeared offers an alternative and merciless vision of social relations in Europe.

Special mention to the artist and photographer Teresa Margolles (Mexico 1963) who in the work “Muro Ciudad Juárez, 2010” has reconstructed a crumbling wall from Ciudad Juárez, the most violent and bloody city in Mexico, to turn the spotlight on the theme of drama of women involved in Mexican drug trafficking.

In addition to being the protagonist of a solo show at the PAC in Milan in 2018, Margolles has exhibited in monographs at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Montreal (2017) and at the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam (2018).

Special mention also for Otobong Nkanga (Nigeria 1974), a Nigerian artist who focuses on the great importance of media in the politics of the earth, within a broader reflection that embraces the precarious aspects of today’s existence. The work “Veins Aligned” (2018) that crosses the spaces of the Arsenale for more than 25 meters, builds a parallel between the concept of territory and that of body, both bearers of similar characteristics.

The Venice Biennale was able to count on a total budget of around 13 million euros and was carried out thanks to the support of some sponsors, including Swatch (partner of the event), illycaffè (main sponsor), JTI (Japan Tobacco International) , Artemide, Vela-Venezia Unica and Seguso Vetri d’Arte, in addition to the contribution of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, local institutions, the City of Venice, the Veneto Region, the Archeology Superintendency, fine arts and landscape for the Municipality of Venice and Laguna, the Navy.

Coinciding with the Biennale, there are many parallel proposals promoted by the various Institutions and Foundations of the territory that present surprising exhibitions, not just a frame of the International Exhibition.

Among the excellent exhibitions we cite: “La Natura di Arp” at the Guggenheim, Luc Tuymans at Palazzo Grassi, “Place and Signs”, a collective of 36 contemporary artists at the Francois Pinault Foundation in Punta della Dogana, the spaces of the Academy Galleries are dedicated in Baselitz, a retrospective on Jannis Kounellis can be visited at the Prada Foundation, while the most extensive retrospective of Alberto Burri in recent years is at Palazzo Cini.


Le sfumature dell’arcobaleno dell’arte sono infinite: scegliete la vostra preferita!

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