BY frieze in Critic's Guides | 14 APR 22

A Preview of the 2022 Venice Biennale: Off-Site Projects

The frieze editors preview a selection of the Biennale’s off-site projects

BY frieze in Critic's Guides | 14 APR 22

This April, the Venice Art Biennale returns after a three-year pandemic-related hiatus (preview days 20–23; first public opening day 23 April; runs until 27 November). In the fifth of our five-part preview, frieze editorial staff name the collateral events and off-site exhibitions they're most looking forward to seeing. 

Ha Chong-Hyun

Palazzetto Tito (Istituzione Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa)

Ha Chong-Hyun, White Paper on Urban Planning, 1967, oil on canvas, 1.1 × 1.1 m. Courtesy: the artist and Kukje Gallery, Seoul; photograph: Chunho An

The Kukje Art and Culture Foundation – in partnership with La Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, Venice; Kukje Gallery, Seoul; and Tina Kim Gallery, New York – presents a solo show of the South Korean painter Ha Chong-Hyun. A pioneer of the Dansaekhwa movement – a practice of monochromatic and minimalist painting that started in 1970s South Korea – Ha will showcase more than 20 works from the past six decades of his career. The exhibition also comprises more recent paintings from his ‘Conjunction’ series (1974–ongoing), a group of tableaux that utilize his signature bae-ap-bub method, in which the artist pushes oil paint through from the back of the raw canvas to the front. Much like his fellow Dansaekhwa artists, such as Lee Ufan and Park Seo-Bo, Ha concerns himself with the physicality of painting and the manipulation of materials, creating impasto layers of rectangular-shaped marks that sit on the surfaces of his canvases with great heft and remarkable balance.

– Terence Trouillot, Senior Editor

Marlene Dumas

Palazzo Grassi

Marlene Dumas, Hafid Bouazza, 2020, oil on canvas, 50 × 40 cm. Courtesy: the artist, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam and Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp; photograph: Peter Cox

The Venice Biennale wouldn’t be complete without a high-profile artist commandeering a camp palazzo. Jannis Kounellis triumphed at Fondazione Prada in 2019. This year, Marlene Dumas’s ‘Open End’ at Palazzo Grassi brings together more than 100 works from the Pinault Collection and other museums around the world. Dumas isolates and abstracts found images to represent fundamental human suffering, ecstasy and horror. Her source material: magazines, newsprint, personal photos and polaroids. Expect to see splayed-out naked figures, unusual, red-handed babies and washy, monochrome portraits in grid formations. Dumas imbues her images with inimical strangeness. She cuts and crops, concealing and foregrounding details from seemingly unrelated places, treating everyone to her inky render – from Phil Spector in the dock for murder (To Know Him Is to Love Him, 2011) to Oscar Wilde’s poisonous lover, Lord Alfred Douglas (Bosie, 2016). Dumas contends with how we disseminate emotion through images and the power images can contain.

Sean Burns, Assistant Editor

‘Enchanted Modernity’

Peggy Guggenheim Collection

Leonora Carrington, Grandmother Moorhead‘s Aromatic Kitchen, 1975, oil on canvas, 79 x 124 cm. Courtesy: © Leonora Carrington / SIAE, Rome and Charles B. Goddard Center for Visual Performing Arts, Ardmore, US

Conceived with the Museum Barberini, ‘Enchanted Modernity’ – curated by Grazina Subelyte – will echo the surrealist inflection of this year’s Venice Biennale with its own history of the movement, encompassing a range of artists, from Max Ernst to Leonora Carrington. The exhibition promises both well-known highlights – Ernst’s Attirement of the Bride (1940) – and pieces by lesser-known practitioners from around the world. Why surrealism now? In 1966, the curator Gene Swenson organized ‘The Other Tradition’, an exhibition of surrealist art at the Institute of Contemporary Art Philadelphia, arguing, in a lengthy exhibition catalogue, that modernism’s love affair with formalism had frozen its ambitious progress in the early 1910s with cubism, and its survival after the war had relied on the wits of heavy-hitting critics rather than artistic talent. In the mid-1960s, with the advent of James Rosenquist, Paul Thek and Andy Warhol, a new, even ‘enchanted’, way of seeing and making had emerged without an attendant body of criticism. Where had these pop artists come from? Swenson argued for surrealism, with its sense of revolt against norms empowered by an exploration of the unconscious and dreams. Here we are again – with major shows in Venice and the Tate Modern. Surrealism is often ‘rediscovered’ when present discourse exhausts itself; it is as if the movement’s flirtations with randomness and chance allows us to flip the script on how we think about the world. Good timing, because have you read the news?

– Andrew Durbin, Editor-in-Chief

Louise Nevelson

Procuratie Vecchie di Piazza San Marco

Louise Nevelson, Dawn's Presence – Three, 1975, wood painted white, 3.1 × 3.2 × 2.5 m. Courtesy: © Estate of Louise Nevelson / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

At the Venice Biennale in 1962, Louise Nevelson packed the US pavilion with reclaimed wood. This year, to mark the 60th anniversary of her installation, the Nevelson Foundation presents 60 of her late works across nine rooms of the Procuratie Vecchie, overlooking Piazza San Marco. The exhibition, titled ‘Persistence’, is an important moment both in Nevelson’s legacy and in the history of the 500-year-old Procuratie Vecchie, which David Chipperfield Architects Milan has been renovating, opening zones previously inaccessible to the public. Nevelson’s installations emerge like walls of black, charred bookcases or anaemic white stalagmites, pieced together from wooden offcuts, chair tops, boxes and lids. The show offers the opportunity to encounter an abundance of work by one of the US’s greatest sculptors.

Sean Burns, Assistant Editor

Isamu Noguchi, Park Seo-Bo and Danh Võ

Fondazione Querini Stampalia

Danh Võ, 2021, exhibition view, Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris. Courtesy: the artist and Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris; photograph: Nick Ash

One of my favourite shows last year was Danh Võ’s solo exhibition at Galerie Chantal Crousel in Paris, where he showcased photographs of a garden he had cultivated with chef Christian F. Puglisi and the local residents of Nivå, a small rural town in Denmark. These images were presented alongside sound pieces by Tarek Atoui, as part of his companion solo show, ‘The Whisperers’. The pairing of these bodies of work was enticing: a wonderful match of playfulness and serenity. I imagine something similar, or at least equally satisfying, will happen at Fondazione Querini Stampalia, where Võ presents his work in dialogue with the paintings of Park Seo-Bo and Isamu Noguchi’s famous ‘Akari’ lamps. Occupying several different rooms in the Palazzo Querini, the show promises to offer small intimate interplays between the artists’ respective works.

– Terence Trouillot, Senior Editor

‘Uncombed, Unforeseen, Unconstrained’

Conservatorio di Musica Benedetto Marcello

Oliver Beer, Little Gods (Chamber Organ), 2022, artist impression. Courtesy: the artist and Parasol Unit, London

Curated by Ziba Ardalan – founder and executive director of the nonprofit, London-based art space Parasol Unit – ‘Uncombed, Unforeseen, Unconstrained’ is a group exhibition featuring works in various media dealing with an array of issues defined by the Anthropocene: climate change, environmental disaster, overpopulation, etc. The artworks in the show also attempt to respond to the idea of entropy: the world’s gradual decline into disorder and chaos. Artists include Darren Almond, Oliver Beer, Rana Begum with Hyetal, Julian Charrière, David Claerbout, Bharti Kher, Arghavan Khosravi, Teresa Margolles, Si On, Martin Puryear and Rayyane Tabet. Though the tone of the show is sombre and meditative, we are especially excited for the opening night on 20 April, when Beer will present a 24-hour performance, Little Gods (Chamber Organ) (2022), with musicians from the Conservatorio di Musica Benedetto Marcello. The site-specific installation is made up of 32 vessels or decorative objects, each of which was selected by the artist to produce a note on the chromatic musical scale. In recent years, performance has dominated the discourse in Venice: Anne Imhof’s Faust (‘cool’, grungy vignettes) won the Golden Lion in 2017, while Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, Vaiva Grainytė and Lina Lapelytė’s Sun & Sea took the prize in 2019. However, it remains to be seen whether performance will make a roaring return in 2022, as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

– Sean Burns, Assistant Editor, and Terence Trouillot, Senior Editor

Wu Tsang

Teatro Goldoni

Wu Tsang, Moby Dick; or, The Whale, 2022, production photograph of Tosh Basco as Queequeg. Courtesy: the artist; Schauspielhaus Zürich; LUMA Foundation, Zürich; Superblue, Miami; TBA21–Academy; Hartwig Art Foundation, Amsterdam; The Shed, New York; deSingel, Antwerp; and The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; photograph: Greg Amgwerd

The last film I saw by Wu Tsang – Girl Talk (2016), in which a becloaked Fred Moten lip syncs to Betty Carter’s titular track – was a crisp four minutes long. I’m intrigued to see whether the magic of this intimate, iPhone-shot portrait will transfer to Tsang’s first feature-length film, MOBY DICK; or, The Whale, which will have its Italian premiere at Teatro Goldoni during the opening days of the biennial. Jointly presented by TBA21–Academy and Hartwig Art Foundation, the silent film reframes Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick (1851) through a post-colonial lens and will be accompanied by a live symphony orchestra. Other works by Tsang will also be on show for the duration of the biennial at the Arsenale.

– Chloe Stead, Assistant Editor

For additional coverage of the 59th Venice Biennale, see here.

Main image: Max Ernst, Europe after the Rain II, 1940–42, oil on canvas, 55 × 148 cm. Courtesy: © Max Ernst / SIAE, Rome and Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, US

Contemporary Art and Culture