Tuesday, August 16, 2022

La Biennale di Venezia - 59th International Art Exhibition - The Milk of Dreams - Arsenale - First Part

"The Milk of Dreams takes its title from a book by Leonora Carrington -1917–2011 - in which the Surrealist artist describes a magical world where life is constantly re-envisioned through the prism of the imagination. It is a world where everyone can change, be transformed, become something or someone else; a world set free, brimming with possibilities. But it is also the allegory of a century that imposed intolerable pressure on the very definition of the self..."
Cecilia Alemagni
La Biennale di Venezia - 59th International Art Exhibition
The Milk of Dreams - Arsenale - First Part
At La Biennale di Venezia - The Milk of Dreams - curated by - Cecilia Alemani - until November 27. The exhibition unfolds in the Padiglione Centrale of the Giardini - see related posts - and in the Corderie, Artiglierie, and the outdoor spaces of the Gaggiandre and Giardino delle Vergini at the Arsenale complex.  The exhibition includes over 200 artists from 58 countries, many of whom have never shown before at La Biennale and for the first time a majority of women and gender non-conforming artists are present, a choice that reflects an international art scene full of creative ferment and a deliberate rethinking of man’s centrality in the history of art and contemporary culture.
 Related Posts

Simone Leigh
Making use of premodern and contemporary sculptural techniques, including lost-wax casting and salt-firing alongside culturally potent forms such as cowrie shells, plantains, raffia, and tobacco leaves, Simone Leigh has developed over the span of two decades a poetic body of sculptures, installations, videos, and works of social practice that centre race, beauty, community, and care as they relate to Black women’s bodies and intellectual labour.
Belkis Ayon 
 Belkis Ayon's work was created using the printmaking technique collography, a collage-like approach in which heterogenous materials are amassed on a plate to create a composition, allowing for a vast range of tones, textures, and forms; in Ayon’s able hands, the subtle gradations of blacks, whites, and greys takes on a magical, redolent weight.  A self-declared atheist, Ayon dedicated her life’s work to the codes, symbols, and tales of Abakua, a secret Afro-Cuban fraternal society whose foundational myth is based on a woman’s act of betrayal. Throughout her oeuvre, Sikan, the princess typically depicted with no facial features but her eyes, is imagined in various religious scenes culled from Judeo-Christian scripture, as well as in mysterious scenarios redolent of Ayon’s life – one belonging to a real Afro-Cuban woman at the end of the millennium, occupied by her own interior dramas.
Portia Zvavahera
Portia Zvavahera sees through her dreams. She pairs the emotional intensity of her inner life with the spiritualism of the Indigenous Zimbabwean and Apostolic Pentecostalist beliefs of her upbringing. Most often, the artist’s ghostly, larger-than-life paintings communicate a spiritual understanding of quotidian moments, including renderings of her family, shape-shifting animals, figures attending wedding processions or kneeling in prayer, or women giving birth and engaged in secular rituals typically marked as feminine. 
Niki de Saint Phalle
Niki de Saint Phalle is best known for her Nanas - French slang for “girls” – large, leaping female figures painted in kaleidoscopic hues and often found frolicking through fountains or city squares – and the Tarot Garden - 1979–2002 - a vast sculpture park she built in Tuscany - Italy, alive with fantastical mosaiced and mirrored creatures. de Saint Phalle’s female forms are bulbous and broad, with breasts, bellies, and buttocks accentuated with painted hearts, flowers, suns, and mandala-like concentric circles.

Rosana Paulino
Rosana Paulino’s practice spans drawing, embroidery, engraving, printmaking, collage, sculpture, and installation to explore the history of racial violence and the persisting legacy of slavery in Brazil, deconstructing the production and dissemination of racist theories that served as justification for European colonialism and the slave trade.  Trunks emerging from the ground rise to amalgamate with bodies that in turn merge with, are wrapped by, and grow flowers, plants, and trees in the Jatoba series - 2019.
Ruth  Asawa
Ruth Asawa began making art as a teenager while forcibly detained by the US government in an internment camp during World War II -  in 1949, she began constructing suspended sculptures, transforming everyday industrial materials – rough brass, steel, and heavy copper wire – into sinuous and graceful spherical forms, which, although three-dimensional in volume, do not contain any interior mass. Inspired by a basket weaving technique learned during a 1947 summer trip to Mexico her looped-wire sculptures like Untitled - S.030, Hanging Eight Separate Cones Suspended through Their Centers; c. 1952 - are grounded in the singular qualities of her chosen material.

 Felipe Baeza - paintings
I open against my will dreaming of other planets
I am dreaming of other ways of seeing this life
These lines title a large-scale painting by Felipe Baeza, who combines collage, mixed media, egg tempera, and printmaking to make heavily textured two- dimensional works. Dreams of other planets, of another life arise through bodies depicted in states of transformation – often half human, half flora. Full foliage bursts from human heads, overtakes torsos and limbs, and erotically vines its way in and out of desirous mouths.
Tecla Tofano - ceramics
Tecla Tofano refused to follow the dominant artistic styles set by her male counterparts in 1960s and 1970s Venezuela. When the Zeitgeist demanded abstraction, she explored figuration. When painting was fashionable, Tofano became a ceramist. When Pop Art came to prominence, her sculptures remained uniquely handmade. Tofano countered machismo in Venezuela by fighting for equality between men and women and even promoted gender nonbinary alternatives.

Maruja Mallo
Starting in 1936, when the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War forced her to leave Madrid and seek refuge in Argentina, Maruja Mallo’s artistic output moved away from the Surrealist path she shared with her friend Salvador Dali and closer to the Latin American currents of Magical Realism. Even in its title, the painting series Naturaleza viva -1942 - breaks with the darker moods normally associated with the still life genre, adopting bold colours, mesmerising patterns, and entrancing shapes, and managing to depict unreal scenes with disconcerting nonchalance. Recognising every element of the composition as bearing a special affinity to a part of the female body, Mallo created eccentric silhouettes where the floral component always corresponds to the hair, and large seashells form the chest or belly. 

 Aletta Jacobs
The many achievements of Aletta Jacobs, the first woman admitted to a Dutch university and for many years the only female doctor in the Netherlands, include her work as a leading international figure in the feminist movement, her courageous civil rights activism with the solid scientific training that was then considered an exclusively male purview. After opening the country’s first birth control clinic, launching a major family planning campaign, and working for the abolition of prostitution, in 1897 Jacobs published De Vrouw. Haar bouw en haar inwendige organen -The Woman: Her Structure and Her Internal Organs. With folding plates drawn by Jacobs herself, the book describes the female body in detail, including the reproductive system. Its primary goal was to explain how reproductive organs work to the growing number of women who no longer wanted their own sexuality to feel like a mystery.  The papier-mache replicas of the uterus made by the pioneering company Auzoux, for instance – which Jacobs used in her studies – depict the stages of a pregnancy in a way that is as scientific as it is artistic.
Maria Bartuszova

Magdalene Odundo
“I think very much of the body itself as being a vessel; it contains us as people,”
Magdalene Odundo’s understated, anthropomorphic ceramic vases speak to a layered understanding of the ceramic arts, following in a long tradition of associating women’s bodies with architecture or vessels. Hand-coiled and scraped with a gourd, Odundo’s objects are laboriously produced via a method that involves gradually hollowing out a ball of clay and slowly pulling material upwards to form the pot. 

Myrlande Constant
Through her artistic innovations with drapo Vodou - the Vodou flag, Myrlande Constant has deeply changed how her nation’s traditional religious art registers with those unfamiliar with Haiti. Constant worked within an entirely male environment of flag-makers in the early 1990s when she made a radical shift in the tradition by using glass beads instead of sequins.  Her work merges contemporary culture with Haitian history and Vodou religion: deities and Christian saints are often immersed in magical atmospheres. Incorporating iconic symbology with an innovative technique, Constant’s work boldly adds to the cultural fluidity that burns at the core of Haiti’s soul and does so in defiance of gendered traditions.



Pin It