58th Venice Biennale: inaugurating countries thinking ahead of the future.

58th Venice Biennale: inaugurating countries thinking ahead of the future.

In the post-truth era of democracies in crisis, fake news and cultural relativism of our neoliberal globalized world, from its opening on May 11, the 58th Biennale di Venezia embarks upon a critical exploration of the sociopolitical function of art as signified by the title “May You Live in Interesting Times,”. For the first time, Ghana, Malaysia, Madagascar, and Pakistan will be inaugurating their countries’ pavilions.

The curator Ralph Rugoff of the London Hayward Gallery develops a contemporary implicit theme through the different national pavilions and 79 transnational living artists exploring installations, performances, films, paintings and more. Among them Laure Prouvost for France, Stanislav Kolíbal for the Czech Republic, Dane Mitchell for New Zealand and others.

90 countries will reveal their own paradigms while being commonly gathered in the exhibition through a common thread in the show’s two venues, the Arsenale and the Giardini.

Mirroring international relations in the political scene, one can expect that the artistic message of the inaugurating countries put in the spotlight by the world art event will act as a milestone. The art world being closely linked with the economic market and geopolitical power-centered system, periphery countries with strong economic disparities are well aware of the international role of contemporary large-scale art institutions such as the Venice Biennale. Coping with somewhat deficient cultural assets like underdeveloped infrastructures or funding sources for art, and struggling with national political instability and tension, they will now proudly herald their pavilion’s flag.

John Akomfrah – Mimesis: African Soldier, 2018

Following this year’s theme, topical political subjects resonate at the core of the exhibition through the artists’ hindsight. At the Ghana pavilion designed by the architect David Adjaye, references to postcolonialism, Ghana’s historical 1957 independence from Britain, and repatriation of art and cultural African artifacts, are at the heart of the exhibition. Titled “Ghana Freedom” it is formed by 6 artists, notably Al Anatsui, but also Felicia Abban, John Akomfrah, Ibrahim Mahama, Selasi Awusi Sosu, and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. Demonstrating again – if needs be – the ever-increasing importance of contemporary African art as a cradle of creation, Ghana has fully embraced its inventiveness and imposed itself on the global sphere.

The continuous attendances of non-western developed countries from different continents – like India (with a pavilion centered around the figure of Mahatma Gandhi) or Latin American countries – mark indeed the awareness of the heterogeneity of discourses and plurality of legitimacies, while acknowledging their influence on the future of contemporary art. At the first Malaysia pavilion, four Malaysian contemporary artists will sharply reflect on this idea, with the concept of identity echoing the controversial questions of ethnic and religious diversity unsettled in their national political debate.

Lynette Yiadom-Boakie – Any Number of Preoccupations, 2010, Oil on canvas, 1§à x 200 cm. Courtesy of the artist, Corvi-Mora, London, and Jack Shainman, New York.

In addition, it seems to be a way of introducing their national treasures to a perhaps unknowing public – without overly stressing on their thorny political positions or social tense climate. The Dominican Republic and its first pavilion reflects on the fragile ecosystem and wealth of the land in a multiple artists’ exhibition named “Nature and Biodiversity in the Dominican Republic”. In a similar stance, the solo exhibition of female artist Naiza Khan for the Pakistan pavilion delves into a documented immersion of living on Manora island, in the small southern archipelago of the city of Karachi where the artist is based.

Madagascar and his pluridisciplinary artist Joël Andrianomearisoa will take the visitor on a poetic stroll through evocations of the countries’ mythical tales in his black papers installation “I Have Forgotten the Night”.

“I have forgotten the night”, Joël Andrianomearisoa, 2019 © Patrice Sour

Challenging national borders in a time of migration and exiles, A Greater Miracle of Perception: The Berlin Iteration for the Pavilion of Finland, the cinematic work of the artists collective, blending activists, performers, writers, is eminently political. Disobedience and resistance, seeing beyond the visible and national identities is what miracle stands for in their site-specific installation by Outi Pieski.

At the Luxembourg Pavilion, Written by Water” by Marco Godinho examines one of the fourth element, epitome of Venice, as a motif for questioning geographical boundaries crossed by men and women since marine expeditionary conquests. From leisure journeys to forced fleeing from poverty and war we have changed our perception of the “otherness” and ecumene (inhabited surface of the world).

Shattered world order and climate crisis will be other major matters of the Biennale, notably towards the new generation of artists calling to attention the most pressing issues. “Weather Report: Forecasting Future” at the Nordic Pavilion will investigate through the digital art and performances, the Anthropocene notion and our threatened life on Earth.

Artistic methodological doubt, disclosing the underlying, offering novel narratives are the Biennale’s focus while seeking to challenge norms in the inclusion of a growing number of women artists and gender diversity.  This 58th edition is thus an invitation for a reflexive pause in the current “interesting”, nonetheless overly disrupted and fast-moving times, so as to re-establish trust in our belief and common ground for our values. More than openly symbolically knocking over Trump’s wall, Rugoff hopes to “[Articulate] a counter offer” for the visitor when enjoying the art walks on the urban space of the city.

Aesthetic and art, as a social means of understanding the world, and intricacy thinking, ahead of conformism, are an answer to ward off the “May You Live in Interesting Times” Chinese curse.

 

A hopeful breath at the MCA with FEDERICO HERRERO

A hopeful breath at the MCA with FEDERICO HERRERO

Currently exhibited in the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Federico Herrero has taken over the two-story entrance of the MCA space, with his Alphabet project a recurring motif of communicative and playful patches of colours from the wall to the reflection of coloured lights on the ground.

After a 10 months joint collaboration with the museum through an impressive mural installation, the occasion for an immersion into the colours and the vibrations of the room will soon be ending. Until May 5 2019 the international Costa Rican artist invites the visitor to penetrate the new environment created with enticing pastel colour blocks reminiscent of the flora and fauna of Herrero‘s tropical birthplace.


Observable from the painted windows of the atrium, the city’s buildings are covered and transformed with the artist bright blue, yellow, orange filters. The swift change of season in Chicago allows for a continuously mutable exploration of the relationship between nature and public urban culture, between art and social life.

 

 

Born in 1978 in the midst of the natural density of San Jose, Herrero was influenced by graffiti and urban art, media, and everyday city art but also recalls color field painters and Central America muralist tradition. From his first notoriety at the 2001 Venice Biennale as a young artist, his artwork gradually progressed into more abstract and less figurative forms. The artist has developed his oeuvre from canvas paintings to mural and monumental pieces, usually breaking free from the wall space, challenging usual space restrictions like grounds, corners, ceilings, and windows, in his artistic expression of a chaotic and joyful landscape.  

 

 

Although his paintings first appear as patterns of geometrical drawings or as the mental forms of a mapping process, his idea of linguistic chromatic shapes in the Alphabet exhibition comes across as the perception of living, “jumping from place to place” pigments, crossing boundaries and giving new life and vividness to the environment. He uses a conventional painting technique to produce a multicolored and visual sign language in order to engagingly interact with the architecture and the city of Chicago- directly through formal colours.

One of the world’s largest museum, the MCA was founded in 1967 and offers inventive displays for new contemporary artists, with a permanent collection including more than 2,000 works. The current installation is organized by MCA Associate Curator José Esparza and Pamela Alper Associate Curator.

 

Today, Herrero’s wide range of artworks can be seen worldwide from numerous exhibitions in museums or galleries to public installations and he has become one of the major figures in the Latin America contemporary art scene. This October he will be exhibiting at the James Cohan Gallery while his future solo shows will take place in Brazil at the Niterói Contemporary Art Museum in Rio de Janeiro in August 2019 and in São Paulo at the Pivô art center in 2020. In his native San José, Herrero will also show his projects at the Museo Nacional de Costa Rica in 2020.

 

First edition of Sharjah Architecture Triennial 

First edition of Sharjah Architecture Triennial 

The Sharjah Architecture Triennial is the first major platform to invite dialogue on architecture and urbanism in the Middle East, North and East Africa, South and Southeast Asia. The inaugural edition opens in November 2019 curated by Adrian Lahoud with the theme of Rights of Future Generations. Inherent in this theme is a commitment to address climate change as the most urgent challenge facing humanity today.

The Triennial is pleased to announce Ambassador Lumumba Di-Aping as the chair of the Rights of Future Generations Working Group, a forum for dialogue and advocacy on behalf of future generations who will bear the burden of climate impact. Additionally, as part of the Triennial’s wider programming, an Environment & Ecology Forum will be held in Sharjah on 15 March exploring how particular environmental contexts and conditions in the Global South produce unique relationships between human beings and ecosystems.

The 2019 edition of the Triennial has invited Di-Aping, who represented developing countries as Chairman of the G77+China at the December 2009 Copenhagen climate change conference, to bring together United Nations representatives, government officials, international rights groups, and members of relevant civil society organizations. The Working Group’s mission is to advance the protection of future generations’ fundamental rights in a world where climate change is dramatically shifting along socio-economic, legal, gender, racial and political dimensions. Through examining the quality and form of life as it is experienced today and as it will be experienced in the future, the Rights of Future Generations Working Group will collaboratively produce The Sharjah Charter to be presented at The Sharjah Summit at the Triennial. Members of the Working Group will be announced in September 2019.

Al-Qasimiyah School, Al-Manakh, Sharjah. Credit: Sharjah Architecture Triennial.

A part of this programme is the upcoming 15 March forum on the subject of Environment & Ecology, the third in a series organized around Housing & Domesticity and Schooling & Education; along with an upcoming forum on Diasporic Networks, these make up the major research strands within the Triennial’s theme. The 15 March forum interrogates climate change as a consequence of societies that have learned to see other living beings as little more than resources to be exploited. Speakers are confirmed as Dalal Alsayer, Ph.D. Candidate in History and Theory of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania; Samia Henni, Assistant Professor at the College of Architecture, Art and Planning at Cornell University; and Marina Tabassum, founder of Marina Tabassum Architects and 2016 winner of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

Aerial view of Corniche Street and Al Mujarrah neighborhood. Photograph by Ieva Saudargaitė. Credit: Sharjah Architecture Triennial.

Responding to the unique circumstances that architects, scholars, planners and artists in the post-colonial Middle East, North and East Africa, South, and Southeast Asia face, Rights of Future Generations  initiates the Sharjah Architecture Triennial’s mission to serve as a space for dialogue that supports an emerging generation of architects drawn from across the Global South and their diaspora.

ArtMadrid ‘19 more international than ever

ArtMadrid ‘19 more international than ever

Art Madrid celebrates its 14th edition from February 27 to March 3, 2019, in the Crystal Gallery of CentroCentro Cibeles (c/ Montalbán,1), with the participation of more than 40 national and international galleries that will show the works of nearly 200 artists, both emerging and consolidated creators.. With an outstanding foreign presence, which this year reaches 40% and reaffirms the confidence placed in the fair by the international context, 26 national and 16 foreign exhibitors from 13 countries, from Spain to Germany, France, Portugal, Lithuania, Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Mexico, Peru, South Africa or Taiwan, and including the participating of 10 first-time participating galleries, have been selected for this edition.

In this edition, as the Selection Committee assures, the proposals are highlighted because of the increasing quality, the more rigorous selection, the growing international character and the ability to reveal the new possibilities in the world of creation. Also, they are articulating wholly contemporary and well-connected discourses, drawing something of the map of our time, in contemporary art.

In the GENERAL PROGRAM, a large number of national galleries participate again, such as Madrid’s Kreisler, Marita Segovia, Alberto Cornejo BAT, Fucking Art Gallery, Hispánica Contemporánea (also based in Mexico City), Jorge Alcolea and Montesquieu. From Asturias the galleries directed by Aurora Vigil-Escalera (Gijón), Bea Villamarín (Gijón) and Arancha Osoro (Oviedo) are returning participants too, while from Galicia, Luisa Pita (Santiago de Compostela) and Moret Art (A Coruña) also return to the fair.

From the northern part of the Peninsula, Galería Espiral (Noja, Cantabria), Rodrigo Juarranz (Aranda de Duero, Burgos) and MH Art Gallery (Bilbao), as well as the newly participating Kur Art Gallery (Guipúzcoa), are joining us this year. From Valencia, the new proposals of Alba Cabrera Gallery and Shiras Gallery are presented, as well as those of the galleries that are coming from Barcelona: 3 Punts, Miquel Alzueta and Zielinsky. Also, the Galería Cornión (Gijón) and Víctor Lope Arte Contemporáneo (Barcelona), which is also present in the One Project programme, are being premiered at the Crystal Gallery.

Among the galleries from abroad participating at the General Program, the Portuguese representation is highlighted with Art Lounge (Lisbon), Paulo Nunes-Arte Contemporânea (Vila Franca de Xira) and the newly incorporation of the São Mamede Gallery (Lisbon/Porto). Also participating for the first time are the French Galerie Barrou Planquart (Paris), the North American Lola & Unicorn (New York), the South African Oda Gallery (Franschhoek) and the Peruvian art collective O-Art Project (Lima). The renewed selections of the German Schmalfuss (Berlin) and Robert Drees (Hannover), the French Norty Mécénat (Carrières-Sur-Seine), the Taiwanese Yiri Arts (Taipei) and the Cuban Collage Habana (Havana) have return this edition as well.

One more year, Art Madrid also features the ONE PROJECT program. The project, designed to support and promote young artists whose careers are in an initial or intermediate state, takes place in a collective exhibition as well as in a solo show format. This year, one of the great updates of the program is the incorporation of Nerea Ubieto, art critic and curator who presents a new proposal led only by female artists. This choice, as stated by Ubieto, is based “on the eagerness to level an unstable balance in which female participation in art fairs is still today unfair”.

Another context singularly represented this year is regarding Africa, with authors from different origins of the continent. Although the Norty Mécénat Gallery brings us closer to the French-African scene, the Oda Gallery’s proposal introduces us to the South African tendencies through works by Samson Mnisi or Benon Lutaaya. Some countries especially represented through their artists are Germany, Portugal, France, and the United States. New visions of the French scene can be seen in the Barrou Planquart Gallery’s booth, which highlights the appropriations, both those of the encapsulated objects, the so-called Big Bangs, with which François Bel makes us reflect on materialism and individualism, like those made by the designer Stéphane Gautier, more related to a critical reflection of the propaganda on children’s imagination. The sculptures of the Germans Jörg Bach, Thomas Röthel and Willi Siber, as well as the brilliant pieces in steel by the Swiss Carlo Borer or the paintings of the Brazilian Cristina Canal, stand out in the Schmalfuss Gallery’s booth. Also, the fantasies made in rubber and paper by South Korean artist Sun-Rae Kim, the mysterious paintings by Spanish painter Pepa Salas and the abstractions of German sculptors Jürgen Jansen and Michael Laube can be seen at the Robert Dress Gallery’s booth.

Scene of Events at Herzlyia Museum

Scene of Events at Herzlyia Museum

The current group of exhibitions at the Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art features nine solo exhibitions of artists who combine photography and sculptural installation in various ways, to deliver such examples of the scene of events to our consciousness – not as a current news report, but as thoughtful representations, whose real impact is the product of the artists’ extended observation, prolonged stay, and actions at the site in question.

Oded Balilty: Front – Curator: Aya Lurie

After years of intensive work as a press photographer in the service of Associated Press (AP), which documents arenas of uprising, armed struggles, demonstrations and conflicts on a daily basis – for which he also won the Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography in 2007 – Oded Balilty (b. 1979) found himself in the grip of a vague emotional block that prevented him from returning to these places.

Balilty returns to specific places where he had previously covered news events as a press photographer and suspends at the site itself a white backdrop of the type used in photography studios, thereby isolating the element photographed from its surroundings. Balilty invokes the specter of memory by manifesting a defense mechanism that works by detachment and erasure.

Nurit Yarden: Homeland – Curator: Aya Lurie

Nurit Yarden’s Homeland body of work traces her wandering through the Israeli public sphere. At the heart of these works is a prolonged observation of a particular place or object that stands for a charged event or social or political phenomenon, presented as an allegorical moral tale. Incendiary issues are treated by the photographer with an intimacy that enables a direct gaze and promotes awareness.

Eldad Rafaeli: On the Scene – Curator: Aya Lurie

Eldad Rafaeli, one of Israel’s leading press photographers, has returned to scenes of events that he has been documenting for more than two decades in the Occupied Territories, Gaza, and the Israeli communities surrounding the Gaza Strip. These are images of devastated landscapes, abandoned and scorched. Rafaeli returns to the scene of events as though it were a battlefield, from which he must collect anyone that was left behind – following the trail of signs etched in the ground, evidence of a tragic story that repeats itself again and again, in an endless and predetermined cycle.

Hadar Saifan: Motel – Curator: Aya Lurie

In this, her first solo museum exhibition, Hadar Saifan presents an installation comprising a surface made up of inflatable air mattresses, covered with silver-backed thermal blankets, and images modeled on actual maps used for evacuating civilians to bomb shelters in times of emergency. These serve her to highlight the absurdity of what is perceived to be normal routine in Israel, where the reality of life under perennial threat is accepted as a matter of course.

 

Micha Ullman: Semi-Detached  – Curator: Aya Lurie

Micha Ullman, one of Israel’s greatest artists and an Israel Prize laureate, has created an original, exciting project, especially for the Herzliya Museum. At the heart of the installation lies an architectural drawing of the ground floor of the artist’s house – a functional two-family semi-detached house – traced with shallow berms of red Hamra soil. The house, a vulnerable organic unit whose relationship to its neighbor is governed by the connected vessels law, becomes allegorical both to the human body and to the political narrative of the land where we live. Consequently, the work points to the need to maintain good neighborly relations. Visitors are invited to enter the house and spend time in it, determining their own route as they walk in and around the rooms.

Sharon Poliakine: Route 531 – Curator: Aya Lurie

On the museum’s concrete wall Sharon Poliakine presents treated rebar iron which she collected from the building site of the paving of Route 531 – one of the largest ever in the Greater Tel Aviv region, which wrought a dramatic and sudden change upon the Sharon region landscape. Poliakine monitored the transformation and documented it in hundreds of photographs and dozens of sketches. These rebar works render present a process – manifested in the signs of life left behind by the construction workers in the field, as well as by the artist’s actions in the studio before they froze and turned into objects.

Haimi Fenichel: Mound  – Curator: Aya Lurie

Fenichel produces a space that resembles a building site, with an overwhelming sense of impending ruin. He plays with materials, swapping them around to create new combinations of image and substance, to produce hybrids that are at once familiar and alien. His works at the exhibition draw on two types of site, each steeped in Zionist-Israeli symbolism: a construction site and an archeological dig, linking the distant past with the present and future. Fenichel – and the viewers with him – are fated to gaze upon Israeli reality well after the pathos of its values of labor and heroism had evaporated and grown weary, and all that remains is a vision made up of fragments of quotations, remnants, and tributes to a culture that had sunk into the dust.

Inward Gaze – Avraham Hay: New Wing, 1997–1999 – Curator: Aya Lurie

This exhibition is part of the “Inward Gaze” series of shows, aimed at an exploration of the Herzliya Museum itself, its heritage and unique architecture. The photographs show the process of construction of the museum’s new wing in 1998–1999. Throughout the museum’s renovation and expansion, Hay would show up on a regular basis, set up his tripod, and take pictures from precisely the same viewpoints. This documentation offers a time capsule that combines the appearance of a construction site with the image of ruins. In the process, it points to the museum’s symbolic site, which is aimed at the commemoration, as a recurring cycle of destruction and creation.

Gaston Zvi Ickowicz: Whirlwind – Curator: Gilad Reich

The “Whirlwind” project by Gaston Zvi Ickowicz, comprised of photography and video works, was created in a series of visits by the artist to the northern part of the “Gaza Envelope” area over the past few months. The works on view document lands that had been set on fire by “burning kites” near the kibbutzim Or Haner and Gvar’am, and the ruins of the Palestinian villages of Simsim, Najd and Al-Mansurah on these lands. Ickowicz’s unique photography, informed by a combination of emotional ambivalence and critical distance, presents the land as an archeological mound and renders present the invisible forces at work in the local arena.

 

Hockney meets Van Gogh

Hockney meets Van Gogh

The major exhibition ‘Hockney – Van Gogh: The Joy of Nature’ demonstrates the unmistakable influence that Vincent van Gogh had on the work of David Hockney (1937). On view from 1 March to 26 May 2019.

Visitors learn about both artists’ fascination with nature, their use of bright colours and their experimentation with perspective. Hockney’s monumental Yorkshire landscapes play a central role.

The exhibition Hockney – Van Gogh: The Joy of Nature features some 120 works, including highlights such as the imposing The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire (2011) from the Centre Pompidou collection, Hockney’s intimate sketchbooks and his iPad drawings. Photographer Rineke Dijkstra created a portrait of the artist, who is now 81 years old, especially for this exhibition.

Axel Rüger (Director of the Van Gogh Museum): ‘Hockney is one of the most inspirational artists of our time. This is the first ever exhibition to explore how Van Gogh influenced his work. It is an absolute honour to have the opportunity to organise an exhibition such as this’.

About Hockney

From the late 1990s onwards, Hockney started to return from Los Angeles to his native region: the Yorkshire Wolds in Great Britain, where he painted the characteristic countryside. These paintings, the so-called Yorkshire landscapes, reveal thorough observations of the changing four seasons, and how light, space and nature are constantly in flux.

David Hockney – “More Felled Trees on Woldgate” 2008 – Oil on 2 canvases (60 x 48″ each)
60 x 96″ overall – © David Hockney – Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt

Love of nature

These often imposing landscapes offer a vivid insight into Hockney’s love of nature, and show a clear link with Van Gogh’s landscapes, such as The Harvest (1888), Field with Irises near Arles (1888) and The Garden of Saint Paul’s Hospital (‘Leaf-Fall’) (1889). The stylised vertical lines of the tree trunks in the latter work by Van Gogh are analogous to the repetitive lines in Hockney’s The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire (2011).

Rüger: ‘Out of pop art, Hockney evolved into a painter of colourful landscapes, in which the influence of Van Gogh is evident. Hockey is an artist who always successfully captures the reality of nature and the people around him, as was Van Gogh. Both artists show how nature appears to them’.

Loans

It was in the Yorkshire period that Hockney began experimenting with his iPad, using the device to create scintillating landscapes. Twenty of these iPad drawings will be displayed in the large format in the exhibition, which also focuses on Hockney’s sketchbooks: individual pages will be on display, which bears an unmistakable resemblance to Van Gogh’s drawing style. The exhibition also features videos, watercolors, black-and-white drawings, and prints. Photographer Rineke Dijkstra created a portrait of Hockney, especially for this exhibition.

David Hockney – “Woldgate Vista, 27 July 2005″ – Oil on canvas – 24 x 36”
© David Hockney Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt

Van Gogh inspiration

Hockney on Van Gogh: ‘His paintings are full of movement. What people love about Van Gogh’s paintings is that all the brush marks are visible and you can see how they are painted. When you’re drawing one blade of grass you’re looking and then you see more. And then you see the other blades of grass and you’re always seeing more. Well, that’s exciting to me and it was exciting to Van Gogh. I mean, he saw very clearly’.

‘The world is colourful. It is beautiful, I think. Nature is great. Van Gogh worshipped nature. (…) He might have been miserable, but that doesn’t show in his work. There are always things that will try to pull you down. But we should be joyful in looking at the world’. – David Hockney

The Van Gogh Museum, Museumplein 6, Amsterdam – March 1–May 26