Art News

Venice Biennale 2013: The 10 must-see artists !

  • By Alexia Werrie
  • In Biennales

1) Berlinde de Bruyckere - Giardini: Belgian Pavillon

In the darkness, a tree ...lying full length, huge, with bruised bark.The Belgian artist immediately sets the tone with her work Kreupelhout-Crippelwood, 2013, an imposing vegetal body with a strange appearance. At first glance, the work disturbs: its mid-bark, half-flesh appearance, its pink slits and reddened tissue bands. But yet fascinates by his imposing presence in the heavy darkness. The artists give us a monumental work with an incredible dramatic touch. A must see!

2) Anri Sala - Giardini: French Pavillon (inside German Pavillon)

Ravel Ravel: A work absolutely overwhelming in emotions. I would never been able to expect that viewing a concerto for the left hand could generate as much force. The video shows a left hand playing the concerto of Ravel. Ravel composed this concerto for the brother of the philosopher Ludwig who lost his his right arm at World War I. Anri Sala  splits his installation in two videos of famous pianists showing twice a hand sliding on the keys. The artist reinforces the sense of disorder by mixing the soundtracks of the two pianists. The result is a unique sound design that completely destabilizes the viewer while looking at two different videos. The work is presented in the huge hall of the German Pavilion, reinforcing the magistral aspect of Sala's creation.

3) Rudolf Stingel - Palazzo Grassi (François Pinault Foundation)

Incredible installation by Rudolf Stingel, a New-York based artist. The artist invades the 5000m2 of the Palazzo Grassi with a site-specific installation as well as past and recent paintings. Stingel's installation consists of carpeting based on an oriental rug which covers the entire surface of the walls and floors. He explores the relation between artistic intervention and exhibition space. In his installation, Rudolf Stingel makes also reference to Sigmund Freud's study characterized by different carpets on the floor. The artist explores thus a way to be confronted to our Ego. The entire Palazzo Grassi becomes a meditation place, " a silent and enveloping site of introjection and projection". I loved this particular atmosphere of silence and the invitation to a new way of meditation. However I regret the artist didn't go until the end of his concept of Freudian disorientation by recovering as well the ceilings with its carpet and inviting people to lay down on the floors to live completely this total inner journey.  

Address: Palazzo Grassi, Campo San Samuele - 30124 Venezia

4) Vadim Zacharov -  Giardini: Russian Pavillon

Reviewing the Greek myth of Danae, the artist presents a surprising installation and involves his audience. Presented over two floors, the ground floor, open only to women, shows a pile of gold coins. Women are invited to enter the room, equipped with a transparent Umbrella and seek a gold coin in the center. From the ceilings, coins are thrown on them. Upon leaving, they put the coin in a bucket that will recharge the mechanism attached at the ceiling. In the first stage, we see a young man eating peanuts. At the center, visitors, homes and women have the opportunity to examine and observe the pile of gold coins on the ground floor. The myth recounts that Danaë was a princess of Argos. "When her father learned a prophecy that he was destined to be killed by a son of his daughter, he locked Danae away in a subterranean, bronze chamber. Her prison, however, was easily infiltrated by the god Zeus who impregnated her in the guise of a golden shower. She conceived and bore him a son, Perseus." Beautiful staging of the Greek myth. I liked the involvement of the public in this installation.

5) Camille Henrot - Arsenale

Silver Lion for this French artist who had the unanimous support of the jury for her video "Grosse fatigue". I was captivated by her video which tells in 13 minutes the creation of the universe. Between innovative images and an electronic sound background, the artist gives us an original and well-crafted vision of the creation of our universe. We are so fascinated by the bombardment of images and the fast-paced sound, that we really would like sound to watch this video a second or third time. We regret the heat of the room that prevent us from staying up to watch this brilliant set.

6) Pawel Althamer - Arsenale

I really liked the installation of Polish artist Pawel Althamer. His installation which shows dozens of plastic bodies with the faces of local Venetians casted in plastic. The installation gives us an unconventional portrait of Venice and I loved Pawel's message where bodies are only the vehicles of souls. To be seen!

7) Stefanos Tsivopoulos - Giardini: Greek Pavillon

The greek artist present us a three-part film recording three persons who are interconnected trough their actions without knowing it. While each video has a humorous connotation, the artist questions in his work the value of money.   A philosophic message, well related to the greek situation, where nothing is lost, everything can be reused.  

8)  Simon Ma - Benedetto Conservatorium

Beautiful installation by Chinese artist Simon Ma. After a journey in the rainforest of XiShuangBanNa, in the South of China, the artist astonished by the supremacy of nature. The artist realize while the colors of his daily life are becoming grayer and grayer, the ones of an untouched nature remain very vital and bright. How can we protect the colors of life? This result in an installation consisting of 6 huge stainless steel Water drops sculptures surrounded by an infinite number of small plastic water drops with color ink on their bottom. A beautiful symbol in our everyday grayer life due to industrialization and pollution. 

Address: Chiesa di San Stae, Campo San Stae, Santa Croce. Closed on Monday's. 

9) Richard Mosse - Irish Pavillon

Richard Mosse spent more than three years in Eastern Congo and present his work "The Enclave": a serie of beauty-horror photographs. The artist infiltrated armed rebel groups, observing their daily lives plagued by massacres, sexual violences and ambushes. The artist uses a camera, originally designed for camouflage detection, that registers an invisible spectrum of infrared light. This gives to the landscapes an incredible psychedelic pink color that gives to this horror images a strange part of beauty. Trough this pink embellishment of horrors, Mosse's manages to show us what was not presentable. The work is presented on 9 screens with a soundtrack mixing voices, music and sounds. Fascinating.

10) When Attitudes become forms - Fondazione Prada, Ca' Corner della Regina

This exhibition is the reconstruction of the famous one initiated by Harald Szeeman, father of the history of curating, in 1969 in Bern. Those interested in seeing the exhibition that revolutionized the art world, will discover the exact reproduction of the one in Bern: same artists and works, same disposition of the artworks. The exhibition presents works of Beuys, Sol LeWitt, Mario Merz or Carl Andre. I liked the video downstairs from 1969, a french journalist trying to understand the conceptual art and interviewing the artists at the time. A good way to discover the artist point of views about their ideal of art. 

Practical Information

Venice Biennale: 1.6 - 24.11.2013

Tickets for the Giardini and the Arsenale on sale on the official Venice Biennale website. 

I recommend to avoid the monday's in Venice, as it is the closing day of many pavilions.

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