insights on art, culture, lifestyle, spirituality, travel, music, society and much much more from a jet-setter currently on "furlough"…

Archive for the month “June, 2007”

east meets west

Galleria Stragapede/Perini (Milano) IT
“East West Art”

From 31 May 2007 until the beginning of July, one can find the show “East West Art” in Galleria Stragapede/Perini, conviniently located in Milan’s hip Porta Romana neighborhood: the hubub of trendy bars to take appertivi early in the evening. Not surprisingly, this gallery is located in one of these establishments and attracts the attention of the both the fashionable Milanese and art lovers alike. Browsing through the gallery after happy hour is not a bad way to wear off a buzz after one-to-many Cosmos, or to walk off the extra calories consumed at the buffet!

Now, back to the art. “East West Art” is an eclectic collection of works by widely acclaimed international artists. Led by Raz Degan, artists such as Christian Balzano, Pietro Geety Crivelli, Charlotta Janssen, Filippo Sciascia, Federico Tomasi and Wolfgang Widmoser are represented. This project was born in 2003, out of Degan’s passion for traveling around the world and to satisfy his curiosity for the diverse cultures of people from all over the world. During the course of his travels throughout the past 4 years, Degan has come across a series of talented, young international artists and as a result, found their own voice (despite the bounds taken on by culture and language barriers) as creative citizens of the world.

This show was beautifully done, and gives one a sense of pride to see how contemporary artists of the present day create their work, what subject matter is more important to them and how they use art as a medium to communicate a profound message to the masses. Subjects such as poverty, racism, animal rights, music, love, sexism, murder and religion are depicted in these works, and the complilation as a whole is asethetically moving… leaving one in awe by the creation in front of them. The creation of a dialogue is also present here: what can we (as Caucasians/Italians) embrace the diversity of these artists from all over the world and incorporate the messages conveyed into our own culture and history? This is an important question to consider, especially as globalization takes place more and more here in Milan.

To further promote the show, there will be a total of 40 events in various Italian cities this year, as well as collaboration of the art with music and videography. See for more information and visuals.


[abstraction] : affiliation with…

Enrico delle Torre
“Percorsi” opere 97-07
Lorenzelli Arte, Milano (IT)

On the far back end of a typical Milanese courtyard, off the bustling Corso Buenos Aires, lies Lorenzelli Arte, a contemporary art gallery who has its focus on both promoting great international masters as well as the works of artists that have been forgotten by art critics and the media alike. The courtyard outside may be cheery and bright, but once inside, the viewer immediately realizes that ARTE is serious business. The interiors are intensely minimalistic, with white walls, light grey maisonite tiles, lots of space and an ample amount of skylight coming from the open glass atrium above. Three white columns can be found in the room with the atrium, There is even spacing between each painting hung on the wall; the rooms are divided by a pair of steps and a half-wall, thereby providing easy flow throughout the gallery as a whole.

The current exhibition is a 10 years retrospective by Italian contemporary artist Enrico della Torre (1931 – ). At first glance, his work seems to be dull and too restricted. Sure, there were abstract compositions, reminiscent of modern artists such as Mondrian and Ben Nicholson yet there was something about it that lacked the ability to be free. The colors were dull, for the most part. Every line and shape was too symmetrical, too perfect and gave me the impression that the artist wanted to so desperately to color outside the lines, but had a hard time committing such a crime. But why? He obviously lacked the in-your-face kind of creativity and I wanted to race through the exhibition, make some mental notes and leave.

It wasn’t until I saw a few works that used diagonal and wavy lines, shapes of all sizes and colors and paintings with borders that I began to understand where della Torre was coming from. He seemed to be working with what is conventional (ie. geometric shapes, primary colors, symmetry) and adding his own twist to it. This isn’t exactly what I’d like to call a revolutionary breakthrough, but it was getting somewhere. There were also a few pieces towards the end of the exhibit that I like to describe as, “Trying to be representational, but not really”. These were abstract pictures that included shapes that could symbolize ladders, stars and moons – objects that were in the process of morphing into what they ought to be. Interesting!

According to della Torre’s artist statement, it seems that with every show, he tries to explore a dimension of ambiguity and uncertainty. He transforms every possible definition into a doubt, every construction into a fragment and in a moment of temporary aggression (at either him or his work) a continuing instability is developed inside oneself; where it can flow and prevail one’s well-being on every level. Basically, the art is there to make you think deeper and question why things are the way they are, and how they can be different.

Italian art critic Francesco Tedeschi probably sums up the motive behind della Torre’s work the best by concluding his artist with the following: [paraphrase/translation] “This day in age, we are living on an absolute, where della Torre’s show, in all its clarity, remains far from every logical abstract of rationality or of spiritual metaphysicality.”

fenomeno Kandinsky

(please excuse the long pause in writing, but a few ephiphanies and prodings from dear friends made me realize that its high time to get those creative juices flowing… again).

“There is no must in art because art is free.”

— Wassily Kandinsky

Powerful. Poignant. An outpouring of the spirit. There are so many phrases and so many adjectives to describe the artistic oeuvre of Wassily Kandinsky, from his first Compositions and Improvisations to his more geometrically rendered shapes of his final years in Paris. His colors literally dance on and off the canvas, always communicating some sort of message to the masses. If you aren’t careful, these colors can absorb you and tingle your insides, until you feel an explosion of energy coming from within. This, however, can only be the beginning of something incredible that does more than satisfy one’s artistic taste buds. Perhaps I am a bit bias, because I consider Kandinsky to be one of my “art heros”… but in my opinion, any kind of art that grabs you and has the ability to move you in unimaginable ways can be denoted as “great art”. Capito?

Exactly 60 years ago, in January of 1947, Milan’s Palazzo Reale held an exhibition of great European modern artists, the first major show since the end of the second World War. Kandinsky was one of the artists represented; the other artists represented were mostly Italian: Bassi, Bonini, Licini, Mazzon, Munari, Rho, Ettore Sottsass and Veronesi. Up until 24 June 2007, curator Luciano Caramel has made it possible for art critics and fans alike to stand in the presence of Kandinsky’s work, as well as the work of other Italian modern artists whom he influenced from 1930-1950. This show is entitled Kandinsky e l’astrattismo in Italia. Here, for the first time in Italy, viewers can see over 42 works by the Russian Expressionist master, including watercolors, oil on canvas and pastel.

The show was arranged [as expected] in a chronological order, starting with Kandinsky’s early work (ie. Improvisations) and moving to the Bauhaus years, his collaboration with Paul Klee and his final years of painting in Paris. Text panels were available to the visitors in both English and Italian, giving a detailed and historical/cultural information about each period in Kandinsky’s art career. The walls were painted in a slate grey-ish color, with bright flourescent lights shining down on the main *highlights* of the show — which allowed viewers to really see every single detail painted. Quotes from Kandinsky’s Concerning the Spiritual in Art filled the walls, giving visitors permission to stop and muse about his art on a deeper level. Besides historical facts, color was also another theme that was highly emphasized. Several rooms held the works in specific color schemes, such as “black-grey”, “red-orange-yellow” and “blue-violet”. These quotes were rendered on color circle panels, presenting a more theoretical approach to the usual chronology of events and famous works. I felt that this methodology could have been taken further, maybe dedicating the whole exhibition to what Kandinsky had to say about color theory. The traffic flow throughout the exhibition was all right, and I didn’t get the audio guide because I don’t like people telling me how to think and look at a piece of artwork.

The most brilliant set-up, however, can be found in the first gallery. There, Kandinsky’s famous Composition VII (see picture above) is hung in a niche in the wall, as if it was floating, with a soft irredescent blue light along the borders and shining through the background. I wish I had my camera, so that I could have taken an illegal picture of it. In this case, the museum was indeed a muse — sucking me into a state of deep reverence right in front of this very painting! To be honest, this was my favorite part of the show, and bearing previous knowledge of the heavy spiritual aspects behind Kandinsky’s early work stabbed me in the chest and nearly drove me to the point of tears. Art can be powerful like that sometimes.

The rest of the show was not rendered quite as well. Although it was interesting to see the influence Kandinsky had on these “contemporaries”, it was also a huge bombardment of images and wall text, which I must criticize, throw my hands up in frustration and ask what the need is to know every single detail about the artists’ life/career and paste both Italian and English text panels side-by-side… overcrowding the already lack of wall space… and blocking the flow of traffic. To be honest, I zipped through this portion of the show and found it to be rather cold compared to the warm, embracing liveliness of dancing colors and shapes on Kandinsky’s canvases.

Other notable highlights of the Kandinsky portion?

*Kochel, 1902
*Zigzag Blanc, 1922
*Movimento I, 1935

Considered by many to be the Father of Modern Expressionism, Kandinsky carries out his expression of the SOUL throughout his artistic career and even into the modern day. The revolution he started brought about lots of criticism from his peers and those in authority, but in the end paved the way for greater things to come. This is why even 60 years after Kandinsky graced Europe with his presence at the January 1947 exhibition, people are still talking about the legacy he left and those who have come to love his art the way it ought to be loved feel the need to carry this principle deeper into the 21st Century.

Viewing this show instilled a huge breath of fresh air to my nearly stagnant artistic exsistence, and forced me to think on a deeper level about how to successfully intertwine the beauty of art theory and exhibition installation once again. Heck, I even bought the catalogue.

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