June was the month of major international contemporary art events: Art Basel in Basel which in turn includes eight major collateral fairs; Miami Design; Masterpiece London; Manifesta12 in Palermo and Milan Photo Week.
MANIFESTA 12 PALERMO
Manifesta, the European nomadic Biennale, was established in Amsterdam in the early 90s thanks to the art historian Hedwig Fijen. Aimed at promoting social integration in Europe, Manifesta invites the international artistic community to create works and installations in the context in which it takes place: it is therefore a site-specific project that aims to establish a dialogue between social structures, culture and art.
The travelling fair opened the doors of the splendid Sicilian city, little accustomed to the artistic avant-garde compared to other European metropolises, but perfect frame for the event.
Selected by the Manifesta committee, Palermo was the ideal city to organize this edition thanks to some of its characteristics, which well represent two crucial themes of today’s Europe: the issue of migrants and the change in global climatic conditions.
Throughout history, Palermo has been occupied by different civilizations and therefore has an interesting cultural stratification and strong ties with North Africa and the Middle East thanks to its geographical position, a crossroads of three continents.
For the city it could be an excellent opportunity for redevelopment and an opportunity to help citizens regain possession of certain areas of the urban structure.
Manifesta brings with it 71 side events selected through an international call, whose programs take place in parallel with the main one of the Biennale.
The curators of this edition are four: the Dutch Bregtje van deer Haak, the Spanish Andrés Jacques, the Swiss Mirjam Varadinis and the Italian Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli.
There are also four main sections: Garden Flows (Botanical Garden, Palazzo Butera), Out of Control Room (Kalsa district, ancient Arab heart with Palazzo Forcella De Seta, Palazzo Ajutamicristo), City on Stage (Palazzo Costantino) and Teatro Garibaldi (general neighborhood of the Biennale).
The most politically engaged section is undoubtedly Out of Control Room, which is divided into two main offices: Palazzo Ajutamicristo and Palazzo Forcella De Seta.
The first opens with the spectacular installation “Citizen ex” by James Bridle, featuring colorful flags fixed to the ceiling. The journey ends with “The Third Choir” by Lydia Ourahmane, which brings 20 oil barrels exported from Algeria to Palermo in 2014, each of which contains a mobile phone.
James Bridle, Citizen ex
Installation at Ajutamicristo Palace
Continue to Palazzo Forcella De Seta, a beautiful building renovated in the nineteenth century. Here the video installations almost become journalistic documentaries on immigration and colonization thanks to Kader Attia’s film “The Body’s Legacies. The Post-Colonial Body” and a “Liquid Violence” by Forensic Oceanography.
More sculptural work “The Soul of Salt” by Patricia Kaersenhout, which fills one of the rooms of the palace with a pyramid of salt: visitors are invited to interact with the work thanks to the possibility of taking and bringing home some salt to remove negativity from one’s life.
Patricia Kaersenhout, The Soul of Salt
Installation at Palazzo Forcella De Seta
Garden of Flows is perhaps the most poetic section of the Biennale: it starts with the Botanical Garden, where the works of eight artists are inserted among the wonderful plants of the park, in a bucolic context reminiscent of the nineteenth-century romantic gardens.
Radiceterna was created in an entrance hall, a refined library and project room that focuses on the combination of Art and Nature. Here will alternate exhibitions of Poi and Calzadilla, Kathinka Bock, Bjorn Braun and Ignazio Mortellaro.
Radiceterna, a project created in collaboration with the Mario Merz Foundation, refers to the artist’s work “If the shape disappears, its root is eternal” of 1984.
In the spaces of the Botanical Garden the theme of this edition of Manifesta finds its perfect stage: the metaphor of the garden as a place where life is born, a land where the diversity of plants and living beings that coexist side by side is cultivated .
Another seat of this section is Palazzo Butera, a splendid residence of the Princes of Branciforte recently renovated thanks to Massimo and Francesca Valsecchi, who in 2019 will bring their collection here to make it become a center of contemporary art.
Inside, the beautiful frescoed rooms exhibit six artists, who interpreted the theme of Manifesta in totally different ways: from the documentary “Night Soil” by Melanie Bonajo to the majolica by Maria Thereza Alves “A proposal of Syncretism (this time without genocide) ”, a project born from some tiles found at the Palermo market in Piazza Marina.
To conclude the photographed “Theater of the Sun” by the American collective Fallen Fruit that covers one of the rooms of the Palazzo with brightly colored wallpaper: an “immersive” / enveloping installation that depicts the fruit trees of the Palermo area and creates a sort of mapping of shrubs often overlooked or ignored.
Fallen Fruit, Theater of the Sun
In the historical center, Palazzo Mazzarino hosts various exhibition projects for the occasion, some of which are site specific.
At the entrance of the building, in the internal arcaded courtyard, you can admire “Games without borders”, an interactive sculpture by the Polish artist Marcin Dudek.
Marcin Dudek, Games without frontiers
In the former horse riding spaces Cavallerizza, the installation of Per Barclay implemented by Francesco Pantaleone creates a mirror, in which the colonnade is reflected, a play of reflections made possible thanks to the use of waste oil. The Norwegian artist carries out a reflection on the passage of time through a game of references between ancient architecture and the present space.
Entering the innermost rooms we meet the works of the collective “The call of Cthulhu”, an exhibition curated by Lorenzo Benedetti that presents seven artists.
The last room hosts the “La Febbre” project, a collective exhibition curated by Vincenzo Schillaci that presents 10 international artists.
Per Barclay, Cavallerizza
The most proposed collateral events have a central role in the installations proposed in recently restored churches.
The Church of the Madonna del Soccorso, also called “della Mazza”, closed to the public for about forty years, finally reopens its doors thanks to the project of Duskmann, a collective established in 2015. The installation “Prelude” culminates in a huge marble heart placed in the center of the nave and has the additional advantage of accentuating the sober elegance of the interior of the church.
Church of the Madonna del Soccorso
Another church that has been closed for a long time due to the renovation works is the Church of Santa Venera, built in 1493 and remodeled at the end of the 18th century in the neoclassical style at the time. On the occasion of Manifesta, the small nave hosts two works by the Belgian artist Berlinde De Bruyckere entitled “Mantel I” and “Mantel II”, presented by the Galleria Continua.
The torn blankets, exposed to the elements for months, are inspired by the habit of Saint Francis painted by the Spanish painter Francisco de Zurbaran (1598-1664): works that are certainly less provocative than those most known by the artist, but which blend in well with the religious space.
The Cuban artist Carlos Garaicoa’s first Sicilian solo show is also very interesting, exhibited at the headquarters of the Francesco Pantaleone Contemporary Art gallery, a stone’s throw from the Quattro Canti and Palazzo Mazzarino.
Through his installations, the artist guides us through a reflection on the relationship between society, architecture and the surrounding environment.
“Garden”, a scale representation of a landscape, subverts reality in an alienating operation that places the visitor as “an almighty god”, giant compared to the nature reproduced. The small monitor showing a dead tree surrounded by ruined buildings takes us back to reality: man’s powerlessness in the face of defeats and, worse, his destructive hand as a negative entity and not as a life-creating superior essence.
“And after, what will we do?” is a site-specific installation that brings together, thanks to the large windows, wooden beams recovered from old Palermo buildings with the external buildings. Small plastic ants that have imaginary buildings instead of the head, prowling the beams and devouring them: a metaphor for the city that builds itself and devours itself, but also a controversy on sustainability and the relationship between man and architecture.
Carlos Garaicoa, And after, what will we do?
Site specific installation
Pinksummer Gallery in Genoa offers a collective entitled “Pictorial Goose Turn”, which can be visited until 6 October in the spaces of Via Patania, in collaboration with the Palermo curator Paolo Falcone. The title of the exhibition joins the title of William J. T.’s essay “Pictorial Turn” and the goose game, also in reference to the nine exhibition rooms that could ideally correspond to nine boxes of the game.
Among the exhibited artists, Peter Fend, Invernomuto, Tobias Putrih and Tomás Saraceno.
Pinksummer Gallery goes to Palermo
The International Center of Photography directed by Letizia Battaglia, inaugurated at the Cantieri Culturali della Zisa in 2017, which currently hosts a group of international photographers, is a must for all photography enthusiasts.
We had the honor of meeting the great photographer in person, who dedicated precious moments to us by telling us about her own path, closely connected with a Palermo, marked by the interference of the mafia in the life of the city and its inhabitants.
Among the goodies that we were lucky enough to visit are the temporary seat of the Galleria Viasaterna in Milan, which in an ancient building has created an atelier, halfway between the residence and the exhibition space, involving eight Italian and international artists, who will exhibit alternating weekly. At the time of our visit it was the turn of Theo Drebbel, an artist originally from Naples, who creates delicate dioramas composed of small figures and plant elements.
Oli Bonzanigo’s artist studio instead gave us an atmosphere of the past, almost dreamlike, in a space that develops between romantic frescoes and a breathtaking view.
The Milanese artist will also exhibit his visionary embroideries at the Viasaterna Gallery from 16 to 22 July.
Another atmosphere, refined and once again seeming to take us back in time, is the one you breathe on the main floor of Palazzo Mazzarino, where the imposing works of Damien Hirst perfectly interpenetrate in a highly sought-after space of noble taste, among frescoes , brocades and the “Portrait of Franca Florio” (1901-1924) by Giovanni Boldini.
During these days dedicated to Manifesta, Palermo really amazed and fascinated everyone with the decadent beauty of its buildings, which also made them look away from the works on display, sometimes more “informative” than contemplative.
The city also amazed at the degree of real integration between different cultures: it is impossible not to realize that Palermo is used to welcoming “the different” much more than many could have imagined. The perfect theater to stage the artistic debate: as the director of Manifesta called it, Hedwig Fijen “complex and layered, it is a city much more than European, transnational”.
A global but problematic Palermo, which has to deal with immigration, the emigration of Sicilians to the big cities of the north, the tourist impact and climate change.
June 28 – July 4
The 9th edition of Masterpiece London took place at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, a historic building designed by Christopher Wren, which saw the participation of 190 galleries, including the most prestigious in the world.
Among the 29 new entries stand out the Kallos Gallery, specialized in antiquity, Hauser & Wirth that stands out for modern painting, Landau Fine Art which has proposed a fantastic portfolio of works including a late Picasso, a rare René Magritte and a Modigliani.
Masterpiece is certainly the most important fair in the world for the joint collection of heterogeneous sectors: it ranges from archaeological finds to modern and contemporary art, from design to jewelry, from ancient books to watches to cover a range of six thousand years of history.
This mix of different artistic genres makes Masterpiece London the only happening that combines art and luxury, a fair that, since the first edition of 2010, has distinguished itself for the very high quality of the pieces offered and which is destined to improve over time.
All this is made possible thanks to the artistic commission made up of 150 international experts from the major public and private institutions, who examine every single piece to certify and guarantee its quality.
The arrangement of the stands by President Philip Hewat-Jaboor, in turn a collector and art advisor, has promoted and enhanced the mix of different genres and sectors, an idea that has had the advantage of making collectors known and purchased even objects unrelated to their usual terrain of action.
Starting from last year, the Masterpiece Presents section was introduced, a space at the entrance of the fair used for the exhibition of innovative works.
This year to welcome visitors was “Five Stages of Maya Dance”, an installation by Marina Abramović, consisting of 5 portraits of the artist carved in alabaster with three-dimensional rendering and illuminated by LEDs.
Presented by Factum Arte (a company based in Madrid, Milan and London specializing in digital mediation) in collaboration with Lisson Gallery, 3D portraits manage to combine performance, sculpture and digital technology thanks to the translucent properties of alabaster: as the spectator moves you have the feeling that Abramović’s image is decomposing into intricate landscapes, creating the effect of a sort of performance.
The work, created over the past five years, represents the five stages of the Mayan dance and is the result of a series of reflections on the ephemeral and eternity.
Marina Abramović, Five Stages of Maya Dance, 2013
Masterpiece Presents 2018
Another contemporary star is the Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota, famous for the enveloping cobwebs, who has created an immersive site-specific installation for the Blain Southern Gallery. Red threads completely enveloped the space furnished with suitcases, maps and books, often personal belongings of Shiota that symbolize delicate existential issues.
Chiharu Shiota, Turning World, 2018
Blain Southern Gallery, Masterpiece London 2018
Taking a step back in time, many stands exhibited impressionist and modern works.
Die Galerie focused on works by three surrealist artists: has presented a monumental bronze statue of Max Ernst, works by André Masson and Roberto Matta.
Mazzoleni, present for the fourth consecutive time, has proposed works by great artists dating back to the 20th century, both Italian and international, including Giacomo Balla, Agostino Bonalumi, Alberto Burri, Marc Chagall, Giorgio de Chirico, Lucio Fontana, Hans Hartung, Fausto Melotti , Victor Vasarely.
Robilant + Voena has instead decided to broaden the spectrum by exhibiting works from different eras: from the serigraphs of Andy Wharol to the Views of the eighteenth century. The absolute rarity proposed by the gallery is the support surface of a table belonging to the collection of Francesco I de’ Medici, dating back to the regency period between 1568 and 1577: the beautiful slab is composed of colored marbles and hard stones set to form a geometric design in shades of ocher and cobalt blue. Perfectly preserved, there are only three specimens in the world that still have the original border and inlaid apron.
Precious stone table belonging to Francesco I de ‘Medici,
Marble and hard stones
141.5 x 87 x 70.5 cm
Robilant + Voena, Masterpiece London 2018
M&L Fine Art presented paintings from the early twentieth century, including a 1916 “Metaphysical Composition” by Giorgio de Chirico, and works from the post-war period by Piero Manzoni, Lucio Fontana and Enrico Castellani.
The Ronald Philips gallery, on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the birth of Thomas Chippendale, exhibited as a tribute to the famous British cabinetmaker about 20 pieces of furniture made by the master.
There was no shortage of rarities that attracted the attention of many visitors: among them a gogotte exhibited at the stand of the Art Ancient gallery, a very rare anthropomorphic sculpture dating back to 30 million years ago formed from quartz crystals and calcium carbonate. This particular sculptural stone presents modern forms and gives the impression of having just been conceived by a contemporary artist, despite his birth dating back to the Oligocene period.
The curiosities presented by Art Ancient to satisfy lovers of natural history and the mystery of the creation of the world did not stop at gogotte: the gallery also exhibited a rare meteorite formed 4.6 billion years ago and a lightning bolt frozen in the sand of the desert, then sold for £ 70,000.
During the days of the fair many negotiations were concluded, some of which also featured major institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the British Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Getty Museum.
Piano Nobile, a London gallery, sold the plaster model of the 1938 sculpture “Recumbent Figure” by Henry Moore to a British collector, whose bronze copy is on display in the Tate Collection. Asking price: £ 250,000.
Henry Moore, Recumbent figure, 1938
Piano Nobile Galerie, Masterpiece London 2018
Mazzoleni sold Giorgio de Chirico’s 1971 “Great Metaphysical with Teams” for about € 430,000 and Victor Vasarely’s “Bellatrix-Bie” for € 100,000.
The fair was held in conjunction with the London Art Week which featured the auctions of modern, contemporary and Old Masters art, a factor that certainly attracted collectors already present in the city to visit Masterpiece by registering about 51,000 visitors, for 16 % more than the last edition.
The exhibition, born in 2010, was purchased in December 2017 for 67.5% by the Swiss group MCH Group, already owner of Art Basel and other international artistic events.
The main sponsor of the fair for the 5th year in a row was the Royal Bank of Canada.
The next appointment is set for June 27, 2019.
The shades of the rainbow of art are infinite: choose your favorite!