This year’s Venice Biennale has been packed away, the pavilions have been emptied of their wonderfully creative works of art, the panini stands dismantled and the mammoth ticket queues have subsided and so I’d like to reflect on what was a brilliant biennale. Venice Biennale is a magical event split over two main venues, the Arsenale and the Giardini, with other satellite venues which often drag you in off the street full of intrigue. During my four days there I was introduced to an array of artists and enthralled by their artwork so there is so much I could say but here are just a few of my favourites…
Coming from Lakeland Arts and being privileged enough to live in such a beautiful part of the world, I often look out for artists who tackle what is one of the most familiar subject matters, landscape. To give the theme of landscape a fresh twist can be difficult but the fantastical drawings with an astounding level of detail by Chinese artist Lin Xue captivated me.
One of the most poignant installations was in the Republic of Serbia’s exhibition, Nothing Between Us, which featured the work of artists Vladimir Perić and Milos Tomic, and was a 3D wallpaper called Mickey Mouse Pattern, 2013. From a distance its ordered layout makes it seem as though you are looking at 2D wallpaper however on closer inspection it becomes evident the items are individual, owned by individuals but telling a collective story. The artist collected these toys over 20 years from flea markets and their collection and presentation is almost monument-like to the people who owned these toys in the 1960s who most likely died in civil war, fled to another country or died in poverty. What was at first childlike and innocent, through a consideration of history, becomes moving and melancholy.
Finally, one of the most memorable experiences of the Biennale was boarding the bright orange boat, which was the Portuguese pavilion, and discovering the breath-taking working of Joana Vasconcelos. Bearing in mind this was after 6 or 7 hours of looking around the Giardini, with a little bit of art-fatigue, Vasoncelos’ fantastic crocheted and knitted creations both unnerved and excited. Exploring her installation was a perfect finish to the day.
The funding for this visit was provided through the Jonathan Ruffer curatorial grants administered by the Art Fund. I would like to thank all those at the Art Fund for supporting my application and for colleagues at the British Council for their help and advice.