Love and desire are two distinct things: not everything you love is desired, nor everything you desire is loved.
Miguel de Cervantes
Artississima in Turin continues to be the most important and international of Italian fairs, and it does not rank badly at European level either. Now that, unfortunately, it is over, we can understand its gigantism from the numbers: 181 galleries, 34,000 visitors, 700 collectors hosted, 33 countries represented. Above all, despite the experimental spirit, Artissima sells. And that is why it is with joy that we attended again this year (here the previous article). Here are a few notes:
Artissima is a theme fair. This year the focus is on Brazilian anthropologist Renzo Taddei (who visited the fair) and his 2022 essay ‘Relation of care’. Taddei, who is a scholar of climate change and indigenous Amazonian thought, proposes the care of the living, human and non-human, as a universal paradigm that orients all our decisions, in order to make contact with other forms of knowledge and coexistence, thus generating new possible relationships to overcome the current systemic crisis. Having been writing about the Market for a few years now, it seems to us a good and desirable hope to leave as a dowry to future generations, if there are any left in a while, but very utopian to practise in the present because it would mean precisely questioning the Market, starting, alas, with the commodification of art. But hope, even in a fair, is always nice.
ElMarsa Gallery – Baya Mahieddine
Artissima is the centrepiece of a week of events. The entire art week in Turin, with the work of the last 30 years, makes the city a participant in the event and truly international in scope. In view of the many openings, the alternative fair (The others), the galleries opening, the museums open, etc., Artissima is a great place to be. The advice is to stay as many days as possible.
Falling in love
We liked many things, but as ArtVerona is so close we would risk repeating ourselves. So our debatable choice is to focus mainly on the differences and what we did not see there, inviting you to make the effort to read, if anything, the previous text (here the article). In particular, what characterises the Turin Fair is the presence of foreign galleries (almost entirely absent in Verona) and the somewhat more widespread use of languages other than painting/sculpture/photos, although the latter clearly dominate. With wonder we even discovered two sound installations.
It must be said that much of the credit goes to the foreign galleries, which dare a little more. We will recount a few of them later in the text, but kudos must still be given for the courage of many galleries with respect to the works brought in, which are certainly reserved for a niche audience.
Alberta Pane Gallery – Romina de Novellis
The fair looks very well attended. If the revolution is not a gala lunch, the Artissima preview tends to be. The large spaces reserved and a certain confidence in the Fair, after all it means betting on higher prices, allow the exhibition of medium-large or large works. A much higher attendance than at other fairs contributes to the appearance, which increases the scent in the air (some stands with a lot of attendance look like a perfume shop), but you don’t feel like you’re lost in the middle of nowhere in huge spaces. If you then arrive in the evening, as happened to us, the illuminated Lingotto Oval helps the atmosphere. Immediate consequence: queue at the bar.
What we like about her:
Nir Altman: Munich gallery, very nice, one of our favourites at Artissima. He also has his own small publication line. Go and check out the site because, apart from the one we will talk about here, it also has many other interesting artists. We find the sculptures of Curtis Talwst Santiago, placed inside precious boxes. The main themes of this Canadian artist, originally from Trinidad, are memory and what he calls diaspora, wanting to produce a kind of counter narrative. But it is also worth venturing out and seeing his other works, which, in line with the theme of the exhibition, are based on the master, a Native American, with whom he studied cultures, memories, languages alternative to the ‘dominant’ one.
Mor Charpentier: Marwa Arsanios is an artist born in 1978 who works between Berlin and Beirut. Her exhibitions are entitled Radical Hopes, Exodus, Resisting the Present. She is interesting because she deals with violence, but not by representing it directly but through what we might call its origins and residues. Ideological, linguistic, personal. She is an anthropologist and has been interested in post-colonial politics and neo-Marxisms. Here we saw a beautiful canvas, Untitled 2023, in which the Arabic language and its translation are represented along the wind and sun axes of the map of North Lebanon. Theme: the study of the influence of institutions in defining landscape and property through the mirror of a specific institution called Waqf, requisitioned properties that were initially meant to be used to help the poor.
P420: Bologna Gallery, you see. The artist who caught our eye is Shafei Xia, because it suits us that sometimes the language is a little unhinged. And here the representation is reminiscent of Chinese erotic art, with all the symbols (from the flower to the tiger, from the exposed sexual organs to the rocking horse) and the deep red background colour. A representation that is also stylistically simple, deliberately simple, that invites you to look at every detail in itself like, and let us not be sacrilegious in saying this, we apologise first, some of Matisse’s paintings.
Materia: The Gallery wins a prize, for us, being the only one we have seen that has taken the trouble to print an A4 sheet with a critical note on the exhibited artist. Bekhbaatar Enkhtur was born in a place, for us, that is wonderful and that we would always like to visit: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia and, moreover, he won the Illy prize for the Present/Future section. We liked it because it knows how to recreate, with really poor materials, an ancient atmosphere, The repetition of manipulated aluminium baking pans reminds us of some image of ancient temples or, in any case, of the elaboration of new memories.
Galerie Jocelyn Wolff: This is an innovative gallery. Starting from the fact that it moves around by boat, public transport and bicycle, to the choice of artists. It also has a strange and certainly ecological way of using water, but we did not quite understand it. Here we point out an amusing installation. Walking along at a certain point, one was struck by a strange noise: birdsong. It came from Auspicio I by Hilario Isola and Enrico Ascoli. An installation with glass bulbs, things inside that ferment and act on hunting calls; a beautiful recording apparatus takes care of the rest. Title and realisation lead one to think of it as a reference to ancestral forms of divination, through, for example, the motion and song of birds.
Galerie Papillon: Charles Le Hyaric ends up with his gallery in the drawing section. And indeed he portrays the features of nature, a wave, a sky, something he finds around Marseille or thereabouts. Certainly his paintings have a great evocative power and deserve to be among the beautiful things. As does his gallery, which specialises in paper works and drawings of new figuration.
Not many things we disliked. One is certainly the advancing fashion of writing the names of artists and galleries in pencil on the walls of the stands. But why do I have to waste time interpreting the calligraphy and looking, usually in the margin or at the bottom, for the inscriptions? Don’t tell us that a gallery exhibiting works costing thousands of euros couldn’t spend 10 of them on labels. As is the almost total absence of a description of the works. The environmental issue, avoiding waste of paper, does not count, as the most prudent ones have made simple Qr codes.
The drawing section. To us it continues to look like one of the weak ones. But this is not the fault of Artissima nor of the galleries that engage in this retro medium. It is either the stage of research that has left hyperrealism behind to look for new, not yet established paths, or we who are incapable of appreciating it. Certainly it will be one of the sections that has sold the most, given that in terms of size and cost they are normally more affordable works. But we are not convinced.
Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo is an institution with beautiful spaces and important objectives (promoting young artists with a focus on patronage). It has inaugurated two exhibitions that we were pleased to see.
Visual Persuasion by Paulina Olowska (runs until March), is a very large solo exhibition that dialogues with artists from the Foundation’s collection. The first thing that strikes you is actually a work by Thomas Hirschhorn, ‘Ingrowth’ from 2009, a long row of dummies with pierced stomachs, a crown with words such as grace, justice, hope, faith, and long avatar-like braids. His trashy stylistic note here exaggerates the horrifying images that some of the mannequins have on their feet: people disembowelled and slaughtered. But then going on, you can’t help but be absorbed by Olowska’s universe of unhinged, provoked, immediate eroticism. To do this, various clichés of eroticism from various eras are exhibited and all possible mediums are used, from collage to painting, from neon to video.
Vestiges by Peng Zuqiang all takes place in two dark rooms. It runs until January and the author won last year’s Illy Present/Future award. What we liked is Deja vu, in which the film itself is embodied through a 16 mm video made with the frame technique, exposing a 30 m line directly on the negative film. The film has an audio that retraces quite traumatic episodes in the life of the author and others