“What I like and what I don’t”, and that unexpected lei

Marco Goldin it’s not a big deal: if a work of art deserves it, the asterisk is triggered, but only one. To get to three, the highest in its rating scale, you have to face a masterpiece. It goes without saying that, as one of the greatest experts on Impressionism and, in particular, a deeply rooted connoisseur of Van Gogh, the art of our time is not quite his bread. Treviso, born in 1961, with more than 400 exhibitions curated since 1984 and about ten thousand works on loan from foundations, museums and collections, admits: “Hypermodern art is not my world, I am an art historian of the 19th century and of 900, my world is painting, sculpting. » Apart from the fact that brushes, palettes and chisels have not dominated the Venice Biennale for years, if anything, installations, performances, creations made with new technologies pass by, unlike the poppy fields of the Dutchman Vincent It is also for this reason that his final verdict is somewhat surprising: the 59th Venice Biennale of Art, which officially opens its doors to the public tomorrow, is being promoted ‘To see, and how.’


Not everything, of course. For some works – especially installations, such as Elaine Cameron-Weir’s military coffin – Goldin has reserved the thumbs down (“Re-chewing, contemporary baroque, always the same things for fifty years”), let alone enthusiastically on the mezzanine floor of the central pavilion where Romanian Alexandra Pirici staged a performance of dancers (“It doesn’t turn me on, not memorable at all”). And the star seemed almost awarded — just one — to the tribute Chilean Cecilia Vicuna, Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement, made in Venice, an installation of ropes and debris gathered in the lagoon. “If this is art? I always wonder. The definition of art is linked to testimonials, to condemnation: the exploitation of the earth as Vicuna said, the climate impact, the historical condition ». Therefore, do not be surprised if the national pavilions of Spain and Germany have not impressed you: there a white and empty space, there the peeling walls. “They are ideas, operations of a conceptual nature” Instead, curiously enough, he liked the work of the Japanese collective Dumb Type: the laser, the sounds, the glass, “lots of atmosphere”.


But the real promotion is for Cecilia Alemani, the Italian curator (and it’s a record, never before in Venice) of the 59th Biennale who wanted almost all women, a whopping 191 of the 213 artists present. “He did well, the art world had to be exposed,” Goldin says with conviction. He didn’t like the title of the exhibition, Il latte dei figli, (“Ugly, but don’t write it, let’s say it’s not suggestive”), albeit small things. «The entrance and the end of an exhibition are fundamental to determine its success or not. And Alemani has centered the theme, from the words that we can read at the entrance of the central pavilion ».
The works you should not miss? In the central pavilion not so much Katarina Fritch’s green elephant, “that still fits”, but the creations in the following rooms. Goldin was enchanted by the colorful canvases of Jadé Fadojutimi, the British woman who paints to the beat of Japanese video game soundtracks: “Well, restoring the painting that looked outdated instead”. And for Jadé there are three, say three, stars. Two more stars for the crystal sculptures of Andra Ursuta: «Come da toucharle». Then there are the knitted paintings of Rosemarie Trockel, which reminded him of “the minimalist American abstract painting of the 1960s from Mark Rothko to Barnett Newman”, but also the photographs of Elle Perez (“Bellissime”) and the pastels of Paula Rego. “Truly talented”, two stars, is the thirty-year-old Venetian Chiara Enzo: an “extraordinary” work, says Goldin, who admires her decontextualized photographic painting, but also the choice to show the small paintings side by side, making them an “an installation which surprises”.

What would Vincent van Gogh say if he were at the Biennale today? “He died five years before the first Venetian exhibition, but he was a person who wanted to learn new languages. I don’t think he would be shocked, indeed, maybe he would have ended up in this stream.” And maybe he also wants the Italian pavilion by Gian Maria Tosatti – here again a record, a unique artist – that captured the art historian Treviso in the Arsenale: «It is as if there are three theatrical scenes. The factory with the alienation of work in the 1970s. The poetic interlude consisting of the bedroom with the nets, the large chest of drawers, the telephone on the wall with the old rotating disk: that 1960s interior reminded me of the paintings of Antonio Lopez Garcia. And then a crescendo between the sewing machines and you imagine the women bent over their clothes, until the final on the water with the fireflies. Pure poetry. There is not just the idea, there is the element of the eternal, which I look for in art ». Oh well, but on November 27, when the curtain falls for the 59th Biennale, nothing of this work remains. “Right, I hope it’s reproduced in a museum.”


Before leaving the Corderie, Goldin agrees: in this Biennale of Art, the first under the presidency of Roberto Cicutto, there are no scandals, no provocations have been seen. “It’s true, it’s an institutionalized Biennale. To see, absolutely ». And am I missing a slate? “He goes to the bar just outside the Arsenale that advertised sandwiches and cicchetti and had finished it all by explaining that there was nothing left to eat because there is the Biennale. On the second day of pre-opening. But is it possible? †

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