VENETI — After some delay, this city is filled with art class again — the pavilions are full, and the parties are booming. But the coronavirus still causes problems. Ha Chong-hyun, a respected Korean artist and exponent of Dansaekhwa or monochrome (one-color) painting, 86, was set to toast this week to the opening of an overview of his work at the Palazzetto Tito, but both he and his wife, Park Mi- yes, tested positive and stayed at home.
On Wednesday evening, the show’s curator, Sunjung Kim, pushed through and welcomed guests to the exhibit (the artist’s eldest son, Ha Yun, whose birth inspired a 1967 piece on display, would be on display the following day). present). There is an abundance of Ha’s signature works, rough and elegant photographs he created by pushing oil paint through hemp cloth, as well as brooding early abstractions that he flamed and some covered with barbed wire or feathers. His recent work contained radiant colors, and a brand new one – glittering with blue and white flecks, a kind of waterfall – was barely dry.
“The Biennale always shows new things, but I wanted to do a retrospective,” Kim said, explaining that her goal is to help people understand how Ha “shows Korean contemporary art that changes and grows, along with our economic development.” By chance, she came across his art in a small space at the 1993 Biennale (before the country had a permanent pavilion in Venice). Now his work has an exhibition space to himself, and she hopes he will see it later. ANDREW RUSSET
In the footsteps of the Doges
To get to the Anselm Kiefer exhibition in the Palazzo Ducale in Piazza San Marco you have to make your way around the main courtyard, up the stone steps that the Doges themselves once enter, through the room of the Great Council with Tintoretto’s Il Paradiso beaming down and still through a narrow doorway. Only there you will encounter the monumental works of this exciting show.
Here, Kiefer’s floor-to-ceiling paintings — 14 parts in all — cover every wall of the Sala dello Scurtino. A second work with the same title, a painting in seven parts, is set up as an apse in an adjacent room.
Coinciding with the Biennale, the exhibition is part of a celebration of the 1600th anniversary of the founding of Venice. Like so much of Kiefer’s work, the past is central. There are well-known motifs: the experience of destruction, the haunting empty landscapes, empty clothes. And the mix of materials – from acrylic and oil to resin, steel, zinc, lead, metal wire, gold leaf, seared wood, fabric, earth, straw, rope, paper and charcoal, as well as shoes and burnt books – fuses art and sculpture.
But if you look even closer, you begin to see the impressions of this city: an outline of an angel, the winged lion of St. Mark, the rippling waters of the Grand Canal, the Gothic architecture of the palace itself.
The title of the work is taken from the writings of the Venetian philosopher Andrea Emo: “Questi scritti, quando verranno bruciati, daranno finalmente un po’ di luce”, roughly translated as: “These writings, when burned, will at last have a shed some light.”
It’s impossible not to think about the past as you gaze up to where the German artist’s canvases meet the ceilings, with the golden hues of those centuries-old paintings reflected in the new work below. It is in the same room that Tintoretto, Palma il Giovane and Andrea Vicentino once made their mark. In notes, Kiefer said he wanted to make the room not just a memory, but a metaphor for movement between east and west, a convergence between past and present. When you’re standing in that room, that’s what it feels like. JULIE FLOWER