The Top 12 Art Shows During the 2019 Venice Biennale

Lorenzo Belenguer
May 17 · 8 min read

The 58th International Art Exhibition is titled May You Live In Interesting Times. It is named after a phrase that has been invoked in speeches by Western politicians for over a hundred years as an ‘ancient Chinese curse’, even though such a curse never actually existed. Curator Ralph Rugoff describes this ‘counterfeit curse’ as an ‘uncertain artefact… at once suspect and rich in meaning’, noting that it suggests ‘potential lines of exploration that are worth pursuing at present, especially when the “interesting times” it evokes seem to be with us once again.’

The Venice Biennale has been for over 120 years and is one of the most prestigious cultural institutions in the world. The Biennale has an attendance today of over 500,000 visitors at the Art Exhibition. The history of the La Biennale di Venezia dates back from 1895, when the first International Art Exhibition was organized. It open to the public on the 11th of May and will continue all over the summer until the 24th of November 2019.

We have run Venice up and down, so you do not have to. Here it is our selection of the 12 more interesting exhibitions. They are all in geographical order. You just need to visit one after the other, starting in Arsenale, following by Giardini, Dorsoduro, Santa Croce and ending up watching a beautiful sunset, and a well-deserved bellini cocktail, at the Island of San Clemente.

  1. Vasily Klyukin — State Russian Museum — Arsenale Nord
Vasily Klyunkin. In Dante Veritas. Courtesy the artist. Photo credit Lorenzo Belenguer.

A favourite and a great way to start and to understand La Biennale, us and the current society. You can find the full review here.

In Dante Veritas, a solo exhibition by Vasily Klyukin, is a collateral event aligned with the 58th Venice Biennale, hosted by the State Russian Museum and the Municipality of Venice. Located in the Arsenale Nord, directly across from the official Biennale Arsenale and Giardini, Klyukin tackles contemporary issues such as climate change, fake news and corruption in a theatrical representation of Dante’s The Divine Comedy, and by renaming The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Overpopulation, Misinformation, Pollution, and “ ExtermiTation” (Klyukin’s word play on the concept of mankind’s destruction of natural resources). Klyukin, a Renaissance man, is an architect, a designer, a writer and a sculptor. He was born in Moscow in 1979 and is currently based in Monaco.

Vasily Klyunkin. In Dante Veritas. Courtesy the artist. Photo credit Lorenzo Belenguer.

2. Group show — China Pavilion — Arsenale

China Pavilion. Courtesy the artists. Photo credit Lorenzo Belenguer.

Re- 睿. ‘Re’ is a frequently applied prefix in the English language, and this word is pronounced the same way in the Chinese language: ‘睿 (Rui)’, which indicates wisdom. The four Chinese artists: Chen Qi, Fei Jun, Geng Xue, and He Xiangyu, intertwined their works and develop a language that it is cosmopolitan and fluid. It feels as if one has been dragged into a powerful gorge and led around by the energy of water, on this occasion images and information. A great achievement by the curator Wu Hongliang.

China Pavilion. Courtesy the artists. Photo credit Lorenzo Belenguer.

3. Christoph Buchel — Barca Nostra — Arsenale

Christoph Buchel. Courtesy the artist. Photo credit Lorenzo Belenguer.

Probably the most controversial work exhibited at the Biennale this year. On the 18th of April of 2015, a fishing boat sunk in the Mediterranean sea on its trip from Libya to Italy. Over 700 passengers drowned in their pursue of a better life in Europe. The vessel has been transported to the Arsenale and has divided art critics and members of the public. Some people calling it as “abhorrent” and a “lack of integrity” by exploiting such tragedy, while others being more supportive. I am more of the latter. The European migration policy needs to display more compassion and this relic is a reminder of that.

4. Alexander Sokurov, Alexander Shishkin-Hokusai — Russia Pavilion — Giardini

Alexander Sokurov, Alexander Shishkin-Hokusai. Courtesy the artists. Photo credit Lorenzo Belenguer.

Anger and panic of an uncertain future, while the current social structures are being eroded, seems to be the main issues at the Russian pavilion with the exhibit of classical statues, paintings and video work. Lc. 15:11–32. The exhibition takes its name from the Gospel of Luke and the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Rembrandt’s painting on this theme has become the greatest masterpiece in the Hermitage’s collection whose museum curates the show.

Alexander Sokurov, Alexander Shishkin-Hokusai. Courtesy the artists. Photo credit Lorenzo Belenguer.

5. Laure Prouvost — France Pavilion — Giardini

Laure Provost. Courtesy the artist. Photo credit Lorenzo Belenguer.

Deep see blue surrounding you / Vois ce bleu profond te fondre is the title of the French pavilion contribution worth the one hour wait. A solo show by the 2013 Turner prize winner Laure Prouvost that liaises the suburb of Paris with the Venetian lagoon. A sense of beauty, revelations and camaraderie continues to appear at a magnetic rap rhythm.

Laure Provost. Courtesy the artist. Photo credit Lorenzo Belenguer.

6. Yamandú Canosa — Uruguay Pavilion — Giardini

Yamandú Canosa. Courtesy the artist. Photo credit Lorenzo Belenguer.

The pavilion from Uruguay is an example of a superb collaboration between the artist and the curators. La casa empática, a solo show by the artist Yamandú Canosa, and curated by David Armengol and Patricia Bentancur, where paintings, drawings, photographs, and mural works are arranged as a ‘landscape-territory’ of the world. A needed lesson on Geography and the current obsession with borders. An empathetic view of the world that takes divisions, of any level, into a context. As Canosa says: “La casa empática is the house of broken borders”.

Yamandú Canosa. Courtesy the artist. Photo credit Lorenzo Belenguer.

7. Aya Ben Ron — Israel Pavilion — Giardini

Aya Ben Ron. Courtesy the artist. Photo credit Lorenzo Belenguer.

Ready for a check up? Anything is possible when at the Biennale. A fully operating Health surgery, perhaps to heal your soul. A second opinion is always available. Field Hospital X (FHX) is a mobile, international institution, established by Aya Ben Ron. It is an organisation that is committed to researching the way art can react and act in the face of social ills and corrupt values in society.

Aya Ben Ron. Courtesy the artist. Photo credit Lorenzo Belenguer.

8. Jannis Kounellis — Fondazione Prada — Santa Croce

Jannis Kounellis. Courtesy the artist’s state. Photo credit Lorenzo Belenguer.

This is THE SHOW in town. The spirituality in the materiality of unorthodox objects that would make a Quantum physics expert proud. “Jannis Kounellis, curated by Germano Celant, is the major retrospective dedicated to the artist following his death in 2017 and, by far, the best. Developed in collaboration with Archivio Kounellis, the project brings together more 60 works from 1959 to 2015. A key figure in the late 60s Italian movement Arte Povera, literally meaning poor art, a term coined by the curator Celant, because of their of raw materials. Kounellis dismantles the duality of high art/low art, sophisticated/unsophisticated, spirituality/materiality, with an instinctive authority that commands a pause, a serene one.

Jannis Kounellis. Courtesy the artist’s state. Photo credit Lorenzo Belenguer.

9. Georg Baselitz — Gallerie dell’Accademia — Dorsoduro

Georg Baselitz. Courtesy the artist. Photo credit Lorenzo Belenguer.

The first exhibition by a living artist at Gallerie dell’Accademia and a superb curation by Kosme de Barañano, it gives space to smaller, and lesser known works. Baselitz is a great disrupter in the collective perception of conventions, and his trademark inverted paintings defy the viewing of the human figure. As de Barañano said: “Georg Baselitz is one of the most significant artists of the second half of the twentieth century. He confronts the great theme of painting not by reducing it to its essence but rather by attacking the convention itself.

Georg Baselitz. Courtesy the artist. Photo credit Lorenzo Belenguer.

10. Alberto Burri — Fondazione Giorgio Cini — Island of San Giorgio Maggiore

Alberto Burri. Courtesy the artist’s state. Photo credit Lorenzo Belenguer.

The Fondazione Giorgio Cini is hosting a retrospective exhibition devoted to the “Master of Materials” Alberto Burri, curated by the art historian and president of the Fondazione Burri, Bruno Corà. It offers visitors the opportunity to follow the most important stages of Burri’s artistic career chrono-logically through about fifty works selected from his most significant series: from the very rare Tars, Moulds and the monumental Sacks to Combustions, Woods, Plastics, the extraordinary Cretti (Cracks) and the late Cellotex, the last stage in the great Umbrian artist’s explorations of diverse materials. Visitors will be able to explore his career further in a multimedia documentary section, which includes some rare films portraying him at work.

Alberto Burri. Courtesy the artist’s state. Photo credit Lorenzo Belenguer.

11. Group show — Faurschou Foundation — Island of San Giorgio Maggiore

From left Chen Tianzhuo, Liu Wei, He An, Yu Ji, Yang Fudong, Sun Xun, and Zhao Zhao. Photo by Feng Yu © Faurschou Foundation

Faurschou Foundation presents the group exhibition Entropy in Venice during the 58th Venice Biennale 2019. Grasping the dynamics of today’s Chinese art scene, Entropy explores the works of seven internationally recognized Chinese contemporary artists: He An, Liu Wei, Yang Fudong, Zhao Zhao, Sun Xun, Yu Ji, and Chen Tianzhuo. The seven artists presented were raised in China during different stages of economic reform. Their works originate from conflicting emotions, caused by clashes between urbanism and nature, as well as deeply-rooted traditions and a new modern reality — all of which the artists experienced first-hand during their youth.

12. Joana Vasconcelos — Hotel San Clemente Palace — Island of San Clemente

Joana Vasconcelos. Courtesy the artist. Photo credit Lorenzo Belenguer.

The exhibition, curated by Nina Moaddel and titled: What are you hiding? May you find what you are looking for?, takes place on Isola di San Clemente where the works are exhibited across the Palace Kempinski gardens and in the San Clemente church. Vasconcelos, based in Lisbon, works with brightly coloured textile structures, locally sourced tiles and other familiar objects to play with the viewers perception through a sharp sense of humour that shuns dogmatism and at the same time explores issues of identity, migration and the exploitation of women. A brave and inspirational exhibition.

Now, enjoy the sunset overlooking the Venice laguna while sipping a well-deserved bellini.

Venice. PHoto credit: Lorenzo Belenguer

For more information, please click on the headline that contains the link. For general information about the 58th Venice Biennale, please visit their website on www.labiennale.org/en/art/2019

EscapadasUK

Escapadas.UK is a Cultural Magazine about Art, Food and Lifestyle for the Intrepid. For inquiries/contributions requests, please contact the editor on Lorenzo@Escapadas.UK

Lorenzo Belenguer

Written by

Artist. Addicted to Anchovies & Chickpeas. #Minimalism #ArtePovera Editor-in-Chief Escapadas.UK Mag Director Incognito #NottingHill www.LorenzoBelenguer.com

EscapadasUK

Escapadas.UK is a Cultural Magazine about Art, Food and Lifestyle for the Intrepid. For inquiries/contributions requests, please contact the editor on Lorenzo@Escapadas.UK

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