I recently returned from the Venice Biennale, there was so much to take in in just five days! There are 120 invited artists from 86 nations exhibiting, as well as numerous events and shows taking place alongside - as if Venice all by itself is not enough to keep your attention! Here are a few of the installations that stuck in my mind.
Phyllida Barlow - British Pavilion
In the British Pavilion this year is 'Folly' by Phyllida Barlow. Barlow's Folly is an ambitious sculptural installation which fills the entire site. It is a cornucopia of amusing, grand and playful ideas which challenges the visitor to explore their own understanding and experience of the sculptures. Numerous works are formed from junk yard materials, they surround the building, whilst other gargantuan pieces fill the rooms reaching up high into the roof. The whole exhibition is joyous exploring the duality of fun and foreboding, made with the amazing contrast between grand scale and modest materials.
Vajiko Chachkhiani - Georgian Pavilion
Vajiko is a Berlin based Georgian born artist. Vajiko's installation is entitled 'A living Dog in the midst of Dead Lions'. Vajiko writes about his work: '
'Through my sculptures and Installations, I seek to address psychological conditions such as loneliness, violence and angst. This is installation in fact has been created to show the reflections of political, social and historical condition of human experiences.'
Vajiko installation consists in an abandoned wooden house made of brown boards with a hint of blue paint on the porch. The structure was transported from the Georgian countryside to Venice and re assembled complete with furniture, pictures and a series of assorted objects. There are traces of the previous occupier, probably a woman. The surreal thing is the continuous rain pouring through the roof onto the furniture. You cannot enter the house, only peek through a broken window, realising that in the six months of the exhibition the house will be completely flooded and the furniture will disintegrate and moss will grow over everything.....
I am going back at the end to experience it again.
Damien Hirst, 'Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable' - Palazzo Grassi
'Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable' tells the fictional story of the discovery of a wreck of a vast ancient ship, 'The Unbelievable'. The exhibition presents the precious recovered cargo, a vast hoard of sculpture, which is to said to be the collection of Aulus Calidus Amotan a wealthy freed slave travelling with his collection of artworks destined for a temple dedicated to the sun.
This is a wonderfully high concept exhibition on a staggering scale, confirmed by Hirst himself to have cost well over £20 million. It is at the same time kitsch, grand and humorous - a comment on our true cultural values. My favourites are the coral encrusted bronzes bellow.
It is true to say that this exhibition has polarised visitors and critics, but I think this exhibition is wonderfully bonkers, a true tour de force not to be missed!
Learn more about the Venice Biennale at http://www.labiennale.org/en/art/2017