Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Few Tourists and Lots of Art - Venice is Joyful in January

Agostino Nani Mocenigo - Photo: Cat Bauer
(Venice, Italy) Venice is joyful in January, when locals mostly have the city to ourselves. Many shops are closed for winter vacations and renovations. The air is brisk and cold. You can see the snow-capped Alps hovering surrealistically in the background. The torrent of tourists has dwindled to a manageable flow, and the vaporetti dawdle on the Grand Canal. It is a brief pause to catch one's breath before Carnival arrives on February 16, and the hordes descend upon the city once again. It's time to relax and enjoy some art.

Agostino Nani Mocenigo at Galleria ItinerArte - Photo: Cat Bauer
Agostino Nani Mocenigo

Count Agostino Nani Mocenigo was a nobleman from one of Venice's most distinguished families who stunned the city when he chose to end his own life in February 2017. I had the privilege of dining with him on more than one occasion, and found him to be sweet, kind, witty and compassionate with that wry Venetian sense of humor.

Agostino was also a Rousseau-like artist whose work captured his fanciful soul in the images of a Venice he painted that existed only in his vivid imagination. A couple weeks ago, Galleria ItinerArte in Dorsoduro inaugurated a posthumous exhibition of Agostino's work, which turned into a warm celebration of his life with lots of friends dropping by, delighted by his whimsical paintings -- an altana (wooden roof-top terrace) dangled from a girder; a palace floated over a canal; a colorful serpent peeked through the greenery from its own little island. As the Prosecco flowed, you could almost feel Count Agostino Nani Mocenigo smiling from the heavens...

Lovers of the City by Svyatoslay Ryabkin
Dream and Reality

Meanwhile, over at Hotel Danieli, the playful imagination of another artist is on display. The Ukrainian painter, Svyatoslav Ryabkin, has brought his fantasies of love and flight to Venice in the exhibition Dream and Reality. On show are five works in the majestic Salone Dandolo. I especially liked his "Lovers of the City," which had a sweet little caption:
Those in love are always in flight. In their poor home they have a paradise and the tractor for them is the best car. It is an idyllic image.
You can enjoy the Dream and Reality exhibition through March 6 in the Bar Dandolo Lounge.

Fire - Marco Martalar at Palazzo Ferro Fini - Photo: Cat Bauer
4444 Water and Fire

4444 Acqua e Fuoco is a project by two different sculptors from the Veneto region who work with wood, exhibited in two different venues here in Venice, Palazzo Ferro Fini and Ca' Rezzonico.

Marco Martalar is from the Altopiano dei Sette Comuni, seven comuni in the Veneto that formed a Chimbrian enclave, which was ethnically and culturally diverse from the surrounding comuni. Martalar belongs to the ancient Cimbri people, who speak a dialect of Upper German. He is inspired by the myths and legends of the forests, and gives fire to his artworks, almost as if through a pagan rite they can acquire new vitality.

Water - Toni Venzo at Palazzo Ferro Fini - Photo: Cat Bauer
Toni Venzo lives nears the river Brenta that flows through a deep valley surrounded by mountains and woods until it reaches the sea on the Venetian coast. Venzo is inspired by water. The harmonious and slow current is reflected in the fluid lines of his artwork.

4444 Water & Fire at Ca' Rezzonico - Photo: Cat Bauer
The "4444" in the exhibition title refers to the number of steps of the Calà del Sasso, the longest staircase in Italy, which has linked the two territories since ancient times. At seven kilometers (4.35 miles) long, it is the world's longest staircase open to the public. The path leads down from the village of Sasso di Asiago towards the town of Valstagna, a province of Vicenza. Next to the staircase runs a gully, which was used to transport timber downhill from Sasso during the Venetian Republic. Once in Valstagna, Calà del Sasso ends near the river Brenta, where the logs were floated to Venice, and used in the arsenal for the construction of ships.

So, 4444 Water and Fire not only links the Veneto to Venice, it links ancient history to contemporary times. And it also links the Comune of Venice to the Veneto Region by displaying one set of artworks at Palazzo Ferro Fini, the seat of the Regional Council, and another at Ca' Rezzonico, part of Venice's Civic Museums.

You can visit both sections of 4444 Acqua e Fuoco through April 1. And if you can read Italian, you can go to Ca' Rezzonico for more information. Otherwise, if you are one of the lucky few visitors here in Venice in this period of calm (or you are a local and are just curious) wander over to Palazzo Ferro Fini and Ca' Rezzonico and take the opportunity to visit a couple of venues you may not have seen before.

Karole Vail, Director of Peggy Guggenheim Collection - Photo: Cat Bauer
From Gesture to Form

Karole Vail, director of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, gave a superb presentation of what 2019 has in store at the breakfast conference on January 25, kicking off the new season with pizzazz. Right now you can visit From Gesture to Form: Postwar European and American Art from the Schulhof Collection, curated by Gražina Subelytė and Karole P. B. Vail. 

The exhibition is a chance to view nearly the entire Schulhof Collection, which was bequeathed to the Guggenheim in 2012, and provides insights into the art movements that developed from around the end of World War II through the 1980s.  


From Gesture to Form - Photo: Cat Bauer
Living artists from both sides of the Atlantic were the focus of the Schulhofs, so artists such as Willem de Kooning, Lucio Fontana, Hans Hofmann, Joan Mitchell, Mark Rothko, Cy Twombly, Donald Judd, Ellsworth Kelly, Kenneth Noland, Robert Ryman, Frank Stella, Andy Warhol and many others are represented. 

Karole Vail also said that since she is a curator at heart, she rearranged the main house a bit:-)

You can visit From Gesture to Form through March 18, 2019. Go to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection for more information.


Soccol - Photo: Cat Bauer
Giovanni Soccol

Venetian artist Giovanni Soccol is at Ca' Pesaro with an exhibition with the weighty title of Soccol - The Metamorphosis of Reality into Myth, or of the Melancholy of the Contemporary Man. Gabriella Belli, who curates the exhibit together with Elisabetta Barisoni, writes in the catalogue:
"Reviewing Giovanni Soccol's entire production as if it were a film editing..., I find that the signs of contemporary melancholy that I saw in 1995 are unaltered over the course of years -- the romantic sense of stupor and at the same time the fight of man who is watching the world, whether it be the ship's prow that becomes an island, a Cyclopean labyrinth, the inside of a basilica, a water door on the lagoon or a horizon of eclipses, choppy seas of the presence-absence of light and darkness. These are the traits of an infinite metamorphosis of reality into myth which is renewed in every Giovanni Soccol painting, conceding us a magic suspension in art territory and in eternity's spaces."
Soccol runs through April 22, 2019. Go to Ca' Pesaro for more information if you can read Italian.

That is just a handful of treasures that Venice has to offer at this tranquil time of year. But one of my favorite things to do is to stroll into a caffè and have a rich, thick cup of hot chocolate. Yum!

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat Bauer
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

1 comment:

  1. Venice is joyful in January, when the locals mostly have the city to ourselves. Many shops are closed for winter vacations and renovations. The air is brisk and cold. You can see the snow-capped Alps hovering surrealistically in the background. The torrent of tourists has dwindled to a manageable flow, and the vaporetti can dawdle on the Grand Canal. It is a brief pause to catch one's breath before Carnival arrives on February 16, and the hordes descend upon the city once again. It's time to relax and enjoy some art.

    ReplyDelete