SARGENT AND VENICE Venezia, Museo Correr 24 marzo/22 luglio 2007
Dopo “Turner and Venice” un altro grande artista si confronta con il fascino della laguna. Venezia fu senza dubbio la città più amata da John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), principale esponente dell’impressionismo americano, nato a Firenze e a lungo vissuto in Europa. Organizzata grazie alla collaborazione tra i Musei Civici Veneziani e le Adelson Galleries di New York, questa mostra - la prima dedicata all’artista a Venezia - è curata da Warren Adelson e Elizabeth Oustinoff e presenta, nelle sale neoclassiche al primo piano del Museo Correr, cinquantaquattro opere tra dipinti e acquerelli, realizzate tra il 1880 e il 1913, provenienti da importanti gallerie e istituzioni museali, tra cui il Brooklyn Museum, il Philadelphia Museum of Art, la National Gallery of Art di Washington, la Royal Academy of Arts di Londra e il Thyssen-Bornemisza di Madrid, nonché da diverse collezioni private che consentono, talora per la prima volta, l’esposizione al pubblico di capolavori altrimenti inaccessibili. Alla mostra è abbinato il volume dal medesimo titolo, pubblicato in edizione italiana da Electa (in inglese Yale University Press) con saggi dello stesso Adelson, Richard Ormond, William H. Gerdts, Elaine Kilmurray, Elizabeth Oustinoff e Rosella Mamoli Zorzi. Come già J. W. Turner e altri grandi artisti dell’Ottocento, anche Sargent rimane profondamente affascinato da Venezia. Cresciuto in un ambiente colto e cosmopolita, tra Italia, Francia, Spagna, Svizzera e Germania, allievo a Parigi di Carolus Duran e iscritto all’Ecole des Beaux arts, inizia la sua carriera come ritrattista. Amico di Monet, intraprende nella seconda metà degli anni ’70 un serie di viaggi di studio e di sperimentazioni sempre più importanti della pittura en plein air. Il primo viaggio a Venezia è del 1870 . Vi tornerà per più di dieci volte nell’arco di quarant’anni, e la rappresenterà con un gran numero di dipinti, come nessun’altra. Questo particolare amore si riflette nella copiosa produzione di olii e acquerelli a tema veneziano- circa centocinquanta – dipinti tra gli anni ottanta del XIX secolo e il 1913. Di essi, ben cinquantaquattro sono esposti alla mostra del Museo Correr, la prima a lui interamente dedicata a Venezia e concepita come un suggestivo viaggio lungo il Canal Grande, colto da una gondola, sulla quale Sargent amava dipingere, adottando un punto di vista ribassato, che restituisce inquadrature inedite e inconfondibili. Vi sono rappresentati palazzi, chiese, campi e canali, animati dai riflessi della luce sull'acqua e sulle architetture, ma , accanto alle vedute dei luoghi e dei monumenti più noti (Ponte di Rialto, Palazzo Ducale, Salute) , trovano spazio alcune insolite visioni di vita quotidiana che rimandano alla vita tradizionale della Venezia dell’epoca, con interni di botteghe, o strade brulicanti di cittadini o donne al lavoro, o caffè e osterie e molto altro ancora. In tutte queste scene, siano esse di interni o di esterni, dominano la ricerca sulla luce, la libertà e l’incisività del tratto oltre a una perfetta padronanza formale. Il percorso espositivo è completato da un’inedita e sorprendente sezione dedicata a certa pittura veneziana coeva (Milesi, Tito, Selvatico, Nono) che Sargent, protagonista di diverse Biennali, senza dubbio influenza “pericolosamente”, ma della quale a sua volta subisce influssi e contaminazioni.
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Dario Ortiz in Asia: Interview by luis Rojas Mendez What does an artist like you search for? In art it is a matter of expressing, above all, that which is part of our thought and our emotions, but which is not susceptible of being put into words. It is constructed with the non material elements that constitute the vision we have of our personal universe. I really think that if the idea of an artist can be said in one sentence, then he should better write it and not waste time trying to make a melody or a painting out of it. Think, for example, about the word "fear": We all know what it is and we have felt it some time or other, but can anyone give us an exact description of fear when they are feeling it? Being something so immediate that it seems we could touch it, it is so immaterial and intangible that it has been itself the subject of a thousand of works of art. That is then what I search for. My own human existence consists of those intangible elements and to find them I use the human figure as a reference point. Men and women to talk about men and women: I search for souls to speak with my own soul. Why is your work figurative after so many years of non figurative vanguards? Many painters cast off figurative art because they feel tired before being on the way. They have given up before the overwhelming power of the art of the past and they protect themselves under the silly saying that "it has been done already". But it is not true that the things you can say and discover in painting, and even more in figurative painting, have somehow run out. Art has no limits in all its varieties, the problem is that some artists have lost their inventiveness, others theirs sensibility, and still others their imagination. Curators, critics and buyers now want to impose rules and regulations restricting the natural freedom of artists. What they now teach in universities are the guidelines to become an artist in fashion; banks, institutions and governments promote and impose the wrongly called "contemporary" art; so now that official art is this imposition, we must remember that true artists have always been against the establishment. As I have said many times, I know I go against the flow but only dead fish flow with the current. Could you please talk to us about your work going to the East? About the content I can say that the subject of the paintings establishes a dialogue between landmarks of the classical world and its literature with my personal experience and the contemporary life about whose goodness I am quite skeptical and firmly critical. Women transformed into a consumer product, the little we are moved by the tragedies of others and the enormous solitude even when we are in the midst of people, are subjects that are put into a parallel with the archetypes based on the myths of classical antiquity, in the same way as Freud built the famous theory of the Oedipus, Electra and other complexes. In this way, for example, I transform the different virtues and qualities represented by the Greek Graces into the triple portrait of a single woman, as determined by the social rule of monogamy. The tale of the judgment of Paris and his personal choice between money, power or love, which is in the origin of the war of Troy, becomes the selection made by men of women for rent, so fashionable in the Japanese karaokes or the Latin American brothels. The Greco-Roman ritual of the triumph of Bacchus, the pagan God of wine and revelry, ends up becoming a criticism of pederast priests and of the bishops and cardinals who them. And the skepticism and mockery made about Dante Alighieri when he built the hell of his Comedy full of pagan gods and figures in the midst of the fanatic Christian crusaders and the Inquisition, ends up being an autobiographical confession when I take the decision of vindicating painting, surrounded by an ocean of artists who have chosen other ways. About the manner of painting them, I can tell you that to develop this exhibition I disregarded the modern methods of painting images. The characters were built in several sittings of the model and of course using drawing and the resources of imagination in most of the pictures. In this way I can better capture the psychological dimension of the characters and their body language. Is that why the exhibition title includes the phrase, "the live model"? It is more frequent in my work that the model, who before was like an actor playing his assigned role, give the work part of his own emotional charge. I let flow freely the particular world of the men and women who pose for me to be painted. Through a few questions I succeed in making him or her do a small catharsis of his or her problems while I paint them, transforming the atelier almost in the ritual of the psychiatrist and the couch, or of a church confessional. Do you believe these subjects so related with Western culture can be easily understood by an observer in China, Japan or South Korea? Surely the subjects themselves would justify, in the West as well as in the East, that each picture have a sort of introduction telling, for example, that the three Graces were the goddesses of enchantment, beauty and joy, who happily and merrily loitered about, and that if I paint them as three variations of the same woman and without any apparent show of dance, laughter or joy, I am asking myself about the validity of the assumption of modern culture having each of us find enchantment, beauty, joy and a thousand more things in a single couple. Surely the cultural density of my work would demand those explanatory sentences, but since I am not trying to convince anyone of my ideas but of expressing my intangible elements, I don’t think it is necessary. If the works are well set down, they are going to suggest all kinds of questions that each viewer must answer because in art as well as in philosophy theories or answers do not very much matter, because they are the questions that always prevail. As a Colombian I could say I am a painter of the periphery portraying its life and the men and women of the mixed Latin American races. But I paint with Chinese brushes, British and German oils, on Belgian canvasses, using a centuries-old Italian technique. Additionally, I paint subjects based on archetypes originated in the north of India, that traveled to Persia and finally were written a thousand times in the islands of the Aegean Sea, before spreading over Europe thanks to the drive of the Roman legions; and then reaching America through Spain and that I studied in North American authors. Then I roll up these works, based on so many personal hypotheses and conclusions, and made in the solitude of my studio, to exhibit them in far-away countries. So I could simply say that in view of this, I am leaving in all of these pictures only questions. Luis Rojas Méndez
Exhibition in the Galerie Boisserée 28.04–10.06.2008 On display during the exhibition, is the illustrated book: "Xenia Hausner GlücksFall / Hide and Seek" (Prestel Verlag), to mark the occasion of the exhibitions at the LudwigMuseum in the Deutschherrenhaus, Koblenz (20.11.2005–29.01.2006) and in the KunstHausWien, Vienna (15.02.2006–14.05.2006). The book includes texts by Beate Reifenscheid-Ronnisch, Carl Aigner, Rainer Metzger and Katharina Sykora, and contains 136 pages with over 80 color images, available for Euro 39,95. The special-edition book, with 90 numbered and signed copies, contains a signed chromolithography on hand-made paper entitled "Augenblicke", priced at Euro 243 and also available during the exhibition. The Berlin-residing Austrian Xenia Hausner has presently taken a strong position as an internationally represented artist of figurative painting. In addition to single-artist exhibitions in the Kunsthalle Wien and the Museum der Bildenden Künste Leipzig (1997), the Käthe-Kollwitz-Museum in Berlin and the Staatlichen Russischen Museum St. Petersburg (2000), the Rupertinum and the Museum der Moderne in Salzburg (2001), her work has been shown at various international art fairs over the last few years, including Art Cologne, Art Chicago, and Art Basel Miami (2003), Arco Madrid, Art Chicago and Art Basel (2004), as well as Art Palmbeach (2006). Xenia Hausner's main subject is the human being. She doesn't investigate the subjects' external appearance as much as she stages intimate pairings, thereby showing real characters participating in imaginary stories. She describes experiences in human relationships – love, loneliness, longing – in a space akin to a private, painted stage, an experimental field and a place of examination, whose players enact no other role than their own self-awareness and whose audience is reduced to a single viewer. Her figures – whether classic acrylic painted on hard masonite or her painterly work on photography – are able to cast a spell on the viewer due to their sensuous intensity. The subject, appearing as in a snapshot, fades into the background. En-route from photograph to painting, the artist achieves an enormous escalation of expressive intensity, in which the work process becomes clearly visible. In the conflicting worlds of reality and imagination, the works win an almost lyrical tone, loaning a new accent to her art. Photography, originally the artist's visual aid for memory, was used as an "instrument" to draw on for the work process, as well as the composition of the arrangements, and finally, installed in the "vestibule" of the painting. She then emerged as an element of a partial collage in her large-scale paintings. In the most recent "mixed media" works, Xenia Hausner continues to explore the analogous relationship of Photography and Color, creating a certain tension as she sets one against the other. The overdimensional photograph becomes a stimulating subsurface for the application of color and for the painterly process that follows. The Cologne gallery exhibition will feature the most recent work from 2006 side-by-side with a few works, shown at the artist's last two museum exhibitions, in the LudwigMuseum in Koblenz (20.11.05–29.01.06) and in the KunstHaus Wien in Vienna (15.02.06–14.05.06).