Category Archives: Exhibition

Rarely seen paintings by Velázquez and Ribera on view at Sotheby’s, 29 June–2 July 2019

Two important Spanish paintings will be on view at Sotheby’s in the days preceding the Old Masters Evening Sale on 3 July.

The sale will feature a portrait of Donna Olimpia Maidalchini Pamphilj (1591–1657) likely painted by Velázquez during his second roman period. Donna Olimpia was an enormously influential figure at the court of pope Innocent X, sometimes referred to in sources as the ‘Papessa’ (lady pope). In the collection of Cardinal Pompeo Aldrovandi by 1724, the painting was later misattributed to the Dutch school and remained unseen for several years. Unusually for a work of this date, the painting’s commission is recorded in great detail in a letter written by Francesco Gualenghi, a resident of Modena living in Rome, to Francesco I d’Este, Duke of Modena (1610–1658) on 13 July 1650: ‘On Monday Sra Donna Olimpia was occupied all day with various ladies…in fact I mean that after lunch on Monday she allowed for her portrait to be painted by a very talented Spanish painter, who is said to be chamberlain to the King of Spain.’

Ribera’s celebrated painting A Girl with a Tambourine will also be offered in the sale. The work is thought to be a personification of the sense of hearing, and to have formed part of a lost series dedicated to the five senses. It is likely a pendant to Laughing drinker with a bottle, once in the Spanish royal collection. While Ribera painted several personifications of the sense of hearing, this is his only signed representation of the subject. The artist’s allegories of the senses are novel in their composition, as he focused on ragged peasants and vivid, everyday figures rather than idealised beauty. This painting is a particularly striking example of Ribera’s ability to capture expression with empathy and skill.

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Opens Today: Balenciaga and Spanish Painting, Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, until 22 September 2019

Francisco de Zurbarán
Saint Casilda, ca. 1635
Oil on canvas. 171 x 107 cm
© Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid

In the summer of 2019 the museum is presenting an exhibition that connects the work of Cristóbal Balenciaga, the most admired and influential fashion designer of all time, with the tradition of 16th– to 20th-century Spanish painting.

References to Spanish art and culture are a recurring presence in Balenciaga’s work. The simple, minimalist lines of religious habits or the architectural volume of their cloth are to be found in many of his designs. The billowing train of a flamenco dancer’s dress echoed in the flounces on some dresses, the glinting reflections on a bullfighter’s suit, brilliantly conveyed in the sequin embroidery on a bolero jacket, and the aesthetic of Habsburg court dress echoed in black velvets embellished with jet trim in some creations are just a few examples. Balenciaga constantly studied the history of art and made use of these influences, expressed through his own powerful and unique style, throughout his career, including his most avant-garde period, reviving historic garments and reinterpreting them in a strikingly modern manner.

The exhibition, curated by Eloy Martínez de la Pera, will include a carefully-selected group of paintings loaned from private Spanish collections and public museums, including the Museo Nacional del Prado and the museums of Fine Arts of Seville, Valencia and Bilbao. They will be accompanied by a group of important creations by Balenciaga, some of them never previously exhibited, loaned from national and international museums including the Museo Balenciaga in Guetaria, the Museo del Traje in Madrid and other international institutions and private collections.

Click here for more information.

Featured Exhibition: Paula Rego. Obedience and Defiance, MK Gallery, Milton Keynes (until 22 September); Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (23 November 2019–19 April 2020); Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (Spring 2020)

Paula Rego, Angel, 1998. Ostrich Arts Limited. Copyright Paula Rego, Courtesy Marlborough Fine Art.

Obedience and Defiance focuses on political and feminist themes and includes previously unseen paintings and works on paper from the artist’s family and close friends, which reflect Rego’s perspective as a woman immersed in urgent social issues and current affairs. The selection of works focuses on the moral challenges to humanity, particularly in the face of violence, gender discrimination and political tyranny. There are paintings and etchings related to children sold into slavery in North Africa (1996–98), abortion (1998–2000) and female genital mutilation (from 2009). Many of the images begin with the artist’s Portuguese roots and childhood experiences or respond to current affairs. This will be the first ever exhibition in Britain to present the paintings Rego made in the 1960s during the regime of the dictator Salazar.

Curated by the former director of London’s Whitechapel Gallery, Catherine Lampert, and organised by MK Gallery (Milton Keynes), the exhibition includes over 80 works. A major new publication will accompany the exhibition with texts by curator Catherine Lampert and the American writer and novelist Kate Zambreno, published by ART/BOOKS. Touring to Edinburgh and Dublin, the exhibition will be the first ever retrospective of Rego’s work in Scotland and Ireland.


Click here for more information on the exhibition in its current location.

Opens Today: Bartolomé Bermejo: Master of the Spanish Renaissance, National Gallery, London, until 29 September 2019

bjo_desktopbannerBermejo is one of the greatest Spanish artists of the second half of the 15th century.

This exhibition, in the National Gallery’s Room 1, brings two of his masterpieces: the triptych of the ‘Madonna of Montserrat’ from the cathedral at Acqui Terme, Alessandria (Italy) and the ‘Piedad Desplà’ from Barcelona Cathedral, to the UK for the first time.

In addition, The National Gallery’s own painting by Bermejo, the magnificent ‘Saint Michael Triumphs over the Devil‘, returns on display following its recent conservation, revealing the painting’s exquisite details and the extent of Bermejo’s artistry.

Click here for more information, and click here for ARTES’ Study Morning in the exhibiton (27 June 2019).

Iberian and Latin American Art at the 58th Venice Biennale

The 58th Biennale of Venice opened on 11 May. Here is a (non-comprehensive) list of Iberian and Latin American artists represented at the exhibition, which runs until 24 November 2019, and at accompanying events.

Mexican artist Teresa Margolles was awarded a Special Mention at the event’s opening ceremony. By shifting existing structures from the real world into the Exhibition halls, Margolles creates sharp and poignant works that deal with the plight of women grossly affected by the narcotics trade in her native country. Her work Muro Ciudad Juárez. 2010 can be found in the Biennale’s central pavilion at the Giardini, entitled May You Live in Interesting Times and curated by Ralph Rugoff.

Other Latin American artists invited to participate in the Biennale’s international exhibition (split between the Giardini and Arsenale) are Jill Mulleady (born in 1980 in Uruguay), Gabriel Rico (born in 1980 in Mexico) and Tomás Saraceno (born in 1973 in Argentina).

The international exhibition is accompanied by 89 national participations. Spain’s pavilion, located at the entrance of the Giardini, showcases Perforated, a collaboration between Itziar Okariz and Sergio Prego. Through performance, video, and sound, Okariz explores the displacements between the subject, the language, and its physical presence. Prego’s sculptural works relate to architecture, calling materiality into question through the use of lightweight, flexible materials that allow the form to only exist in a specific state or as a result of a continuous action on the constituent material. Both artists reiterate the alternative functions of the body in our technified society.

Brazil’s pavilion, Swinguerra, takes its title from a combination of swingueira, a popular dance movement in the north-east of Brazil, and guerra, war. Wagner & de Burca’s work focuses on the powerful expressions of popular culture in contemporary Brazil, and their complex relationship with international and local traditions.

In Uruguay’s exhibition, La casa empática, paintings, drawings, photographs, and mural works by Yamandú Canosa are arranged as a ‘landscape-territory’ of the world, an inclusive and empathic ‘total landscape’. The total landscape is completed by the intervention on the facade and by the starry sky installed in the ceiling of the pavilion.

Metáfora de las tres ventanas. Venezuela: Identidad en tiempo y espacio is the pavilion of Venezuela. Three metaphorical windows— thresholds for light, air, and the gaze—symbolise the long construction of collective history and an all-encompassing narrative filled with challenges and rebellion. Venezuela aims to promote its libertarian identity, woven over the centuries, and share it in a clear gesture of invitation to the complicity of others.

Other national pavilions are located in the Arsenale. Argentina’s exhibition, El nombre de un país/The Name of a Country is a punk, Frankensteinish bestiary that flaunts a high-fashion collection attitude. Mariana Telleria traces a highway with an infinite number of linguistic lanes, activating confusion—mixing things together, building monsters—and sustaining viewers’ awareness in a continual state of transit.

In Chile’s Pavilion, Altered Views, Voluspa Jarpa offers a proposal for decolonisation through a review of European history. Altered Views comprises three reversed cultural spaces/models: the Hegemony Museum, the Subaltern Portrait Gallery, and the Emancipating Opera. The project collects concepts that defined colony: race and cross-breeding, subordinate male subjects, cannibalism, gender, civilisation and barbarism, monarchy and republic, appealing to a critical view from a transtemporal journey.

Mexico is represented by Actos de dios/Acts of God by Pablo Vargas Lugo. This exhibition which speculates on the life of Christ to generate a non-linear narrative that raises new questions. What would happen if the man who was chosen to redeem humanity had set out to fulfil all the predictions made by the prophets about his life without being certain that he could accomplish them?

“Indios antropófagos”. A butterfly Garden in the (Urban) Jungle, the exhibition of Peru, is a paradox: a post-conceptual exploration of the fiery sensory impact of Amazon culture on certain (neo)Baroque horizons in Peruvian art, namely in Christian Bendayán’s work, where it is energised by a critical reconsideration of the Amazon as a constructed image.

Other national exhibitions are dotted around Venice. In Cannaregio, the Dominican Republic presents Naturaleza y biodiversidad en la República Dominicana. This is the country’s first independent national pavilion at the Biennale. It offers a reflection on ecological threats affecting the luxuriant local nature, the Earth and humankind.

Next to the Dominican Republic is Guatemala’s Interesting State. The term ‘interesting state’ evokes a woman who is pregnant. Acts of violence against women constitute the denial of existence. Guatemala is an ‘interesting State’ because of the persistence of this devastating phenomenon. Art therefore becomes an ethical instrument, in which the seductive aesthetic nature of the works is there to serve an indispensable social denunciation and an essential opportunity for redemption.

Portugal’s pavilion, a seam, a surface, a hinge or a knot, features artist Leonor Antunes reflecting on the functions of everyday objects and contemplating their potential to be materialised as abstract sculptures. The artist is interested in how craftsmanship traditions from various cultures intersected in the work of Venetians such as Carlo Scarpa, Savina Masieri and Egle Trincanato. Elements of the exhibition are fabricated with Falegnameria Augusto Capovilla, one of the still-active Venetian carpentries that worked closely with Scarpa.

The Cuban pavilion, located on the island of San Servolo and entitled A cautionary environment/Entorno aleccionador brings together installations, paintings, and interdisciplinary works on allegorical themes of the times in which we live. The invited artists, Alejandro Campins, Ariamna Contino, Alex Hernández and Eugenio Tibaldi, discuss the relationship between man and the environment.

The Biennale’s programme is accompanied by a series of collateral events. Catalonia in Venice’s To Lose Your Head (Idols) documents the complex life of statues, which some artists today recreate and reflect upon. This multi-authored exhibition explores the theory of art reception and documents the complex life of public statues in our time. In a world of images, iconoclasm and iconodulia, it questions the fetishism of images as living entities and encourages conversations as a way to foster human happiness, awareness and freedom.

The latest works by the contemporary Portuguese sculptor Joana Vasconcelos (born 1971) are being displayed under the title What are you hiding? May you find what you are looking for at the Venice Biennale on the island of San Clemente across the Palazzo Kempinsky gardens and in the church of San Clemente itself, supported by the film production company MGM. In the church the exhibition shows her large-scale floor sculpture Madragoa (2015­–2019), inspired by Lisbon’s buildings and façades, which explores the intersections of sculpture, architecture and painting. This piece has new elements specially created for it since it was first shown in Macau in 2015. In the gardens Vasconcelos is displaying I’ll be Your Mirror #1 (2019), a giant Venetian carnival mask made of mirrors, which the sculptor recently showed at the Guggenheim, Bilbao in a solo show. Also on show in the gardens is Betty Boop PA (2019), a high-heeled shoe crafted out of saucepans, which proposes a revision of the “feminine” in today’s world by bringing together two tropes of a woman’s private and public image.

Glass works by Vasconcelos are on view in the exhibition Glasstress 2019, which features artists Carlos Garaicoa, Javier Pérez, José Parlá, Jaume Plensa and Bernardì Roig, among others.

Javier Pérez, Carroña, 2011, glass chandelier, stuffed crows (Glasstress 2019)

Closing Soon: ‘Olga Picasso’, Museo Picasso Málaga, until 2 June

Pablo Picasso, Olga Pensive (winter 1923), Musée national Picasso-Paris (c) RMN-Grand Palais (Musée national Picasso-Paris)/Mathieu Rabeau, Sucesión Pablo Picasso, VEGAP, Madrid, 2018

The Museo Picasso Málaga presents Picasso’s first wife Olga Khokhlova and her story in the first show of its 2019 exhibition calendar. The exhibition Olga Picasso was inspired by the letters and photographs found in the travel trunk of the Russian dancer, Bernard Ruiz-Picasso’s grandmother. The exhibition focuses on the years of Olga’s relationship with Picasso. It offers context on the creation of some of Picasso’s greatest works, connecting them with a personal story that developed alongside another, political and social, story.

Olga Khokhlova (Nezhin, Ukraine, 1891– Cannes, France, 1955) was the daughter of a colonel in the Russian Imperial Army. In 1911 she joined the prestigious and innovative Ballet Russes company, which was at that time highly successful in Europe under the direction of Serguei Diaghilev. She first met Pablo Picasso in Rome in the spring of 1917, when the artist was designing the sets and costumes for the ballet Parade. They were married in Paris, on 12th July 1918, and their first and only child, Paul, was born in February 1921. The couple separated in 1935, although they remained married until Olga’s death in Cannes, in 1955.

The Russian ballerina’s travel trunk, which her son received when he inherited the chateau of Boisgeloup—currently owned by the Fundación Almine y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso para el Arte (FABA)—contained previously unseen letters and photographs. For many years, the drawers harboured Kodak envelopes full of photos that told the story of Bernard’s grandparents, their life together, their travels, Picasso’s ateliers and more. In other compartments lay hundreds of letters in French and Russian, tied with little pink or blue silk ribbons. Olga’s trunk, engraved with her initials, also held her dance attire, ballet shoes, tutus, programmes and such personal objects as a Crucifix and a Russian Orthodox Bible. The contents of the trunk, which was the only personal belonging Olga kept after her separation from Picasso, revealed new aspects of the artist’s work during their relationship.

Approximately 350 items will be shown in the exhibition, including paintings, works on paper, photographs, letters, documents and films. It has been jointly curated by Émilia Philippot, conservator of the Musée national Picasso-Paris; Joachim Pissarro, professor of art history and director of Hunter College Art Gallery (New York); and Bernard Ruiz-Picasso, co-chair of the Fundación Almine y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso para el Arte, FABA, president of the Executive Board of Museo Picasso Málaga and member of its Board of Trustees. The exhibition has been adapted for Museo Picasso Málaga by José Lebrero, the museum’s artistic director, and Sofía Díaz, its exhibitions coordinator.

Click here for more information.

The exhibition will travel from Málaga to Madrid, where it will be on show at the CaixaForum from 19 June to 22 September 2019. Click here for details.

Featured Exhibition: Picasso’s Women: Fernande to Jacqueline, Gagosian, New York, until 22 June 2019

The art dealers Gagosian, New York, in partnership with members of the Picasso family, present an exhibition in honour of their late friend and colleague, Sir John Richardson, the eminent biographer of Picasso who died in March 2019. The exhibition Picasso’s Women: Fernande to Jacqueline, features paintings and sculptures showing the central role and influence of the many women in Picasso’s life.

The exhibition runs until 22 June 2019 at Gagosian, 980 Madison Avenue, New York. Richardson had previously organized six major exhibitions of Picasso’s work at Gagosian. In the early 1960s, John Richardson was planning to write a study of Picasso’s portraits and spent hours with the artist, poring over reproductions of his works. As Picasso spoke about the complexities of his pictorial thinking—pointing out, for example, that a portrait of Dora Maar might also contain elements referring to her romantic predecessor Marie-Thérèse Walter, and her successor Françoise Gilot—Richardson began to believe that a detailed biographical treatment of Picasso’s portraiture would close a notable gap in Picasso scholarship. Decades later he would sit down to write what would become the monumental multivolume biography, A Life of Picasso.

Picasso was as eclectic in his choice of muse as he was in style: the bohemian Fernande Olivier; disciplined Olga Khokhlova; blonde Venus Marie-Thérèse; passionate artists Dora and Françoise; Sylvette David, the young woman with a high ponytail; and Jacqueline Roque, the devoted, romantic beauty. Not merely mute muses, Fernande and Françoise published memoirs; Olga and Marie-Thérèse kept extensive archives of photographs and letters over decades; Dora gave interviews to researchers and documented Picasso’s work and private life in photographs.