Here are some highlights of some shows around Venice.
Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace)
March 26 – October 29
Anselm Kiefer presents a new body of work in the Sala dello Scrutinio and the Sala della Quarantia Civil Nova at the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) in Venice to coincide with the 59th Venice Biennale. Kiefer was invited by the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia (MUVE), to present a site-specific installation of paintings that responds to one of the most important spaces in the Palazzo Ducale and to the history of Venice.
The Palazzo Ducale has served as a backdrop to generations of artists including Giovanni Bellini, Vittore Carpaccio, Titian, Veronese, Tintoretto and many others. The monumental space of the Sala dello Scrutinio was the venue for the elections of the Doge and its walls are richly decorated with paintings celebrating the power of the Serenissima Repubblica di Venezia.
Philosophical and literary references have always been central to an understanding of Anselm Kiefer’s work. The exhibition takes its title, Anselm Kiefer Questi scritti, quando verranno bruciati, daranno finalmente un po’ di luce (Andrea Emo) (loosely translated as These writings, when burned, will finally cast a little light), from the writings of the Venetian philosopher Andrea Emo (1901-1983). Kiefer first encountered Emo’s work six years ago and his artistic method has striking parallels with Emo’s philosophical thought.
In the installation in Palazzo Ducale Anselm Kiefer also reflects upon Venice’s unique position between north and south and the interplay of the Orient with the Occident. He sees equally meaningful connections between all these different cultures and the history of Venice, where the words of Goethe’s tragic play, Faust: The Second Part of the Tragedy (1832) still resonate.
Beyond: Emerging Artists
April 20 – May 22
Abu Dhabi Art presents works from the 2021 edition of the Beyond: Emerging Artists programme at Palazzo Franchetti, Venice. For its first iteration in Italy, Beyond: Emerging Artists showcases commissioned artists Christopher Joshua Benton, Maitha Abdalla and Hashel Al Lamki, who were supported by guest curators Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath, co-founders of multidisciplinary curatorial platform Art Reoriented.
The Beyond: Emerging Artists initiative invites local and international curators to work with UAE-based emerging artists of their choosing in a year-round programme, enabling and supporting the artists to hone their skills and develop their professional practice. Participating artists are provided with a budget and curatorial support to create ambitious new works that are exhibited through Abu Dhabi Art.
Combining film, installation, and sculpture, Benton’s The World Was My Garden works with the palm tree as a metaphor for migration, labour economies and the history of slavery in the Gulf. The exhibition’s centerpiece is My Plant Immigrants, an almost three-metre-tall date palm tree suspended in the air.
Abdalla’s Too Close to the Sun encompasses sculpture, works on canvas and photography. The exhibition explores what the artist perceives as the wild nature of women that social forces have often attempted to tame, intertwining themes including the wildness of human nature, the archetype of the feminine psyche, and the untamable character of wild animals.
In this commissioned multidisciplinary work, Hashel Al Lamki charters various realms from the natural to the built and the imagined in order to foreground the scarcity of the earth’s resources and the way that these events impact the human psyche. The artist contends that climate change is pressing mankind to reconsider their existence, imagining alternative realities.
Burning Falls by Koen Vanmechelen
April 8 – May 15
After their success at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence during the exhibition Seduzione, the thirty fantastical creatures made by Koen Vanmechelen from striking combinations of glass and Carrara marble are presented by Adriano Berengo in the setting of their origin: the island of Murano.
Titled Burning Falls, Vanmechelen’s new exhibition showcases the sculptures, which were handmade last year with the support of the glass masters of Berengo Studio, in the atmospheric setting of the Fondazione Berengo Art Space. The exhibition features as part of the In Città section of Homo Faber 2022, the major exhibition event dedicated to artistic crafts and international artisans. Burning Falls aligns with the spirit of Homo Faber, whose focus this year is The Living Treasures of Europe and Japan. Crafting a more Human Future, and allows us to celebrate this unique material during the United Nation’s International Year of Glass: “If Burning Falls can break down the walls that divide us today, it will create a transparency in which we will recognise ourselves in each other,” says Koen Vanmechelen.
For the occasion, in addition to the Medusas, the red tiger, the serpentine chickens, the horned iguanas and the other mystical animals seen in Florence, several never-before-seen pieces will make their public debut, including the captivating Formula Segreta chandeliers: two complex works that reflect on the origin, decay and regeneration of all living things, and are intended as a tribute by the artist to the history of Murano glass.
Muhannad Shono, The Teaching Tree
April 23 – 27 November 27
Muhannad Shono has been selected to represent Saudi Arabia at Biennale Arte 2022 in Venice. Curated by Reem Fadda and Assistant Curator Rotana Shaker, The Teaching Tree is a large-scale, ambitious installation exploring themes of creation, regeneration, nature, and mythology.
The Teaching Tree is a vast, 40-metre-long, organically formed structure made of palm fronds painted in black and animated by pneumatics. The enigmatic form fills the length of the pavilion, embodying Shono’s investigation of the drawn line and its potential for creation and destruction. Through this, he explores ideas of resilience and regeneration both in the natural world and within human imagination. Shono’s practice counters the limits of singular narratives, instead questioning truths, ontologies, and the basic concepts underpinning human life. Investigating the drawn line, Shono interrogates the impact of writing and the generation of thought, as well as their respective potentials. For Shono, embracing the line and mark making is an act of creative agency. As such, The Teaching Tree builds on central concepts within his practice, interrogating the self, tradition, mythology, and the natural world.
The stories of Al Khidr have also had a profound influence on Shono’s personal and creative life. Made of plant matter, it was known that wherever Al Khidr sat a garden would grow, symbolising rebirth, regeneration, and healing. The Teaching Tree thus alludes to ‘mother nature’ and its hope for rebirth in face of warning signs of past and future ecological struggles.