Friday, June 18, 2010

Here Kapoor, Kapoor, Kapoor...Dove è il Kapoor?

Chanti part two, Art:

Luckily, I was with Sabine on my search for contemporary art in Italy. As an avid collector and a contemporary art lover, Sabine does not mess around when it comes to interesting contemporary art. As a women who is very often interested in work that some might find challenging, she has a keen eye for a good artist and has little patience for the average “tuscan landscape” (which is just one of the many things I love about her btw). So upon her suggestion, we specifically went to San Gimignano to visit Galleria Continua.

As we walked towards the town I found a very interesting street map simply titled Art in the city (Arte in Citta). What's that in the very top right hand side of the map? Anish Kapoor you say? Yes please. Here began the hunt.

The first stop was Galleria Continua:

More akin in size to a museum, Galleria Continua sits on a cliff like corner of San Gimignano. Galleria Continua boasts more then 16 rooms, plus one really cool smaller tomb–like gallery in another building “down the block”.

Galleria Continua is stunning. A piece of art in itself. I found a great many of their pieces to be interesting and smart, especially in their “Basement Gallery”. I would say I'm a fan of all the work I saw there, but I most want to focus on the stunning exhibition of Hans Op De Beeck.

Beck's “Still Life” is made up of three table-like pieces topped with post-modernesqe Marquette style sculptural renderings of the objects which interject into many of our modern day lives.

The tabletops are coated with a 1984/Big Brother shade of grey, drawing attention to the still life like qualities of the objects. Academic qualities of shade, line, depth and perspective are all taken into account. The tables act as stages, with each small sculpture playing the multiple roles of art historian, context curator, and director. My short summary? I love them and I want one in my living room.

There's also one stunning video work titled “Staging Silence”, a comical black-and-white film noir style video that points out the trickery, the brilliance, and the poetry found in the mundane. It's fit for those who appreciate a good visual pun or magic trick and I wish I could have an edition of my own.

In the film, Op De Beeck shows the beauty of silence, using a loud form of slapstick to make light of the similarity between public and private banal moments. I could have watched it over and over (and if I was not being considerate of my friends I probably would have).

From there, one of the lovely assistants from Galleria Continua led us to their installation space, just down the block from the main gallery in a gorgeous old building. This space houses a large-scale work by Chinese artist Chen Zhen.

Courtesy of Galleria Continua

There are many things that can be said about this piece; on first glance it is quite simply beautiful to see all those objects covered in terracotta. Unfortunately, when thinking about it critically, I became stuck. ”Purification Room” comes off as a visual one liner (and as many of you know, I ♥ a good one liner) but with a piece as large as this with so many loaded objects, pouring mud over shit just doesn't do it for me. It's pretty though, pretty in the Serrano kind of way.

Now began our search for the Kapoor, around corners, through churches, down cobble stone streets. Dove è il Kapoor? People looked at us as if we had two heads. But at last, a “Gallery”! Showcasing more of Sabine's “favorite” type of paintings! We asked the owner, “do you know where the sculpture is by artist Anish Kapoor”. NON! Ok, not the friendliest man, but still. We continue on...

...then. right past the gallery, we found a little walkway. We made our way down the windy road up to a private residence at the very edge of San Gimignano. Still no Kapoor! But out of the corner of my eye, stuffed behind a tree, I spot a interesting looking gate. Beyond that gate, down the stair, wedged into a tomb... THE KAPOOR!

“Underground” is literally that underground, and I love it. It was totally worth the search. Check out the panorama shot.

Seeing a Kapoor installed in someone's home is pretty fantastic. As we walk back towards the town to leave Sabine tells the man the Kapoor is right past the gallery, why does he not know about it? “That, that is not art, that is shit.” Well, it seems he feels the same way about the Kapoor as Sabine feels about his tuscan landscapes.

More to come!

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