In April, the Venice Art Biennale returns after a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic (preview days 20-23; first day of public opening April 23; until November 27). In the fifth of our five-part overview, curly editors name the side events and offsite exhibits they are most looking forward to seeing.
Ha Chong Hyun
Palazzetto Tito (Istituzione Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa)
The Kukje Art and Culture Foundation – in partnership with La Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, Venice; Kukje Gallery, Seoul; and Tina Kim Gallery, New York – presents a solo exhibition by South Korean painter Ha Chong-Hyun. A pioneer of the Dansaekhwa movement – a monochrome, minimalist painting practice that began in the 1970s in South Korea – Ha will present over 20 works from the last six decades of his career. The exhibition also includes more recent paintings from his “Conjunction” series (1974-ongoing), a group of paintings that use his signature bae-ap-bub method, in which the artist pushes the oil paint from the back of the raw canvas forward. Much like his fellow Dansaekhwa artists, such as Lee Ufan and Park Seo-Bo, Ha is preoccupied with the physics of painting and the manipulation of materials, creating impasto layers of rectangular-shaped marks that rest on the surfaces of his canvases with great weight. and a remarkable balance.
– Terence Trouillot, editor-in-chief
The Venice Biennale would not be complete without a renowned artist commandeering a camp palace. Jannis Kounellis triumphed at the Fondazione Prada in 2019. This year, “Open End” by Marlene Dumas at the Palazzo Grassi brings together more than 100 works from the Pinault Collection and other museums around the world. Dumas isolates and summarizes the found images to represent basic human suffering, ecstasy and horror. His sources: magazines, newsprint, personal photos and polaroids. Expect to see splayed nude figures, unusual red-handed babies, and faded monochrome portraits in grid formations. Dumas imbues his images with a hostile strangeness. She cuts and reframes, hiding and highlighting details of seemingly unrelated places, treating everyone with her inky rendering – from Phil Spector in the murder dock (To know him is to love him2011) to Oscar Wilde’s poisonous lover, Lord Alfred Douglas (Bosie, 2016). Dumas questions the way in which we diffuse emotion through images and power images may contain.
– Sean Burns, Associate Editor
Peggy Guggenheim collection
Conceived with the Barberini Museum, ‘Enchanted Modernity’ – curated by Grazina Subelyte – will echo the surrealist inflection of this year’s Venice Biennale with its own history of the movement, encompassing a range of artists, from Max Ernst to Leonora Carrington. The exhibition promises both well-known highlights – Ernst’s Bride outfit (1940) – and pieces by lesser-known practitioners from around the world. Why surrealism now? In 1966, curator Gene Swenson organized “The Other Tradition”, an exhibition of surrealist art at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, arguing, in a lengthy exhibition catalog, that the love affair of the modernism with formalism had frozen its ambitious progress in the early 1910s with cubism, and its survival after the war rested on the spirit of hard-hitting criticism rather than artistry. In the mid-1960s, with the advent of James Rosenquist, Paul Thek and Andy Warhol, a new way of seeing and doing, even “enchanted”, emerged without any criticism. Where did these pop artists come from? Swenson argued for surrealism, with its sense of revolt against norms reinforced by an exploration of the unconscious and dreams. Here we are again – with big shows in Venice and the Tate Modern. Surrealism is often “rediscovered” when the present discourse is exhausted; it’s as if movement’s flirtations with randomness and chance allow us to reverse the script on our way of thinking about the world. Good timing, because have you read the news?
– Andrew Durbin, Editor-in-Chief
Procuratie Vecchie di Piazza San Marco
At the Venice Biennale in 1962, Louise Nevelson filled the American pavilion with salvaged wood. This year, to mark the 60th anniversary of his installation, the Nevelson Foundation presents 60 of his late works in nine rooms of the Procuratie Vecchie, overlooking Piazza San Marco. The exhibition, titled “Persistence”, is a significant moment both in Nevelson’s legacy and in the history of the 500-year-old Procuratie Vecchie, which David Chipperfield Architects Milan has renovated, opening up previously inaccessible areas to the public. Nevelson’s installations emerge like the walls of black, charred bookcases or anemic white stalagmites, assembled from scrap wood, chair tops, boxes and lids. The show offers the opportunity to encounter an abundance of works by one of America’s greatest sculptors.
– Sean Burns, Associate Editor
Isamu Noguchi, Park Seo-Bo and Danh Vo
Fondazione Querini Stampalia
One of my favorite exhibitions last year was Danh Võ’s solo show at Galerie Chantal Crousel in Paris, where he featured photographs of a garden he had cultivated with chef Christian F. Puglisi and the people of Nivå, a small rural town in Denmark. These images were presented alongside sound works by Tarek Atoui, as part of his companion solo exhibition, “The Whisperers”. The pairing of these bodies of work was seductive: a wonderful marriage of playfulness and serenity. I imagine something similar, or at least equally satisfying, will happen at the Fondazione Querini Stampalia, where Võ presents her work in dialogue with the paintings of Park Seo-Bo and the famous “Akari” lamps of Isamu Noguchi . Occupying several different rooms of the Palazzo Querini, the exhibition promises to offer small intimate games between the respective works of the artists.
– Terence Trouillot, editor-in-chief
“Uncombed, unplanned, unconstrained”
Benedetto Marcello Conservatory of Music
Curated by Ziba Ardalan – founder and executive director of the non-profit arts space Parasol Unit – ‘Uncombed, Unforeseen, Unconstrained’ is a group exhibition featuring works in various media dealing with a range of issues defined by the Anthropocene: climate change, environmental disaster, overpopulation, etc. The works in the exhibition also attempt to respond to the idea of entropy: the gradual decline of the world into disorder and chaos. Artists include Darren Almond, Oliver Beer, Rana Begum with Hyetal, Julian Charrière, David Claerbout, Bharti Kher, Arghavan Khosravi, Teresa Margolles, Si On, Martin Puryear and Rayyane Tabet. Although the tone of the show is dark and brooding, we’re especially excited for opening night on April 20, when Beer will present a 24-hour performance, Little Gods (chamber organ) (2022), with musicians from the Conservatorio di Musica Benedetto Marcello. The in situ installation is made up of 32 containers or decorative objects, each of which has been selected by the artist to produce a note on the chromatic musical scale. During the last years, the performance dominated the discourse in Venice: Chez Anne Imhof Faust (‘cool’, grungy vignettes) won the Golden Lion in 2017, while Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, Vaiva Grainytė and Lina Lapelytė Sun & Sea won the award in 2019. However, it remains to be seen if the performances will make a meteoric comeback in 2022 as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.
– Sean Burns, associate editor, and Terence Trouillot, editor
The last movie I saw by Wu Tsang – girls talk (2016), in which a masked Fred Moten syncs with Betty Carter’s titular track – lasted four minutes. I’m intrigued to see if the magic of this intimate iPhone portrait will carry over to Tsang’s feature debut, MOBY-DICK; or, The Whale, whose Italian premiere will take place at the Teatro Goldoni during the first days of the biennale. Presented jointly by TBA21–Academy and Hartwig Art Foundation, the silent film reframes Herman Melville’s film Moby-Dick (1851) through a post-colonial lens and will be accompanied by a live symphony orchestra. Other works by Tsang will also be exhibited throughout the biennale at the Arsenale.
– Chloé Stead, Associate Editor
For additional coverage of the 59th Venice Biennale, see here.
Main picture: Max Ernst, Europe after the rain II1940-1942, oil on canvas, 55 × 148 cm. Courtesy: © Max Ernst / SIAERoma and Wadsworth Atheneum Art Museum, HartfordWE