Corridor White 7
Present Future PF 4
Disegni DS 2
Corridor Red 16
Back To The Future BTTF 5
Corridor Pink B 18
Step 01, Tucci Russo, Giovanni Anselmo
Step 02, Chris Sharp, David Gilbert
Step 03, Chapsule Shanghai, Huang Hai-Hsin
Step 04, First Floor Gallery Harare
Step 05, Lawrie Shabibi, Mona Saudi
Step 06, HOA
Good morning, and welcome to Artissima 2023. This is the AudioGuide project and you are listening to tour number 01 entitled 30 with Honours, which will allow you to discover artistic research from all over the world, retracing the fair's history at each stage. Artissima is celebrating its 30th anniversary with an extremely rich edition featuring 181 galleries from 33 countries. As in previous years, there are three curated sections: Back to the Future, Present Future and Drawings. The theme chosen by Luigi Fassi, in his second year as director, is Relations of Care. Looking for an alternative way to create a future based on caring for people and the planet, perhaps starting from models other than the dominant Western one, seems more fundamental than ever in these times of crisis and violence. Since 1994, the fair has grown year by year, changing venues several times and building up a major international appeal that attracts collectors and experts as well as many visitors. In this tour some significant moments in the history of Artissima will give us the chance to discover galleries and artists, both historical and emerging. It will therefore be a journey through time and space, taking us to 4 different continents, through all the sections of the fair. The audioguides were developed for Artissima by the mediators of Arteco. This tour was curated by Sergio Manca. We are ready to go. The first stage will be the Tucci Russo gallery, located on the corner of the main boulevard and the white corridor, on which it is located at number 7.
Let's start at the beginning: on 29 September 1994, the first edition of Artissima opened in Hall 3 of Lingotto Fiere, under the direction of Roberto Casiraghi. At its launch, the fair already included 123 galleries from only 7 countries, with a large majority of Italian galleries. However, it is worth mentioning the participation of Gian Enzo Sperone's famous gallery, which had animated the art scene in Turin in the 1960s and 1970s and then moved to New York. Among the founding members of the first edition of the fair was Antonio Tucci Russo, owner of the historic gallery opened in Turin in 1975, which in '94 had moved to Torre Pellice in the spacious and fascinating spaces of a former textile factory. Throughout its history, the gallery has promoted the work of artists from the Arte Povera group as well as that of a number of prominent international artists such as Tony Cragg and Thomas Schütte. The long-standing collaborations with artists delineate the gallery's identity also in this edition of the fair. Here we find the work of Giovanni Anselmo, a central name in Arte Povera, who has always dedicated his research to reflecting on the relationship between human beings, materials, the cosmic dimension and the invisible energies that regulate the movement and life of our planet. His work entitled Dove le stelle si avvicano di una spanna in più consists of six granite blocks on each of which a part of the title is engraved. The span-high blocks, which are the basic units of empirical measurement and human labour, give us an ideal foundation on which to climb in order to get closer, really however infinitesimally, to the stars. This activates a relationship with the universe not dissimilar to that provoked by Interferenza nella gravitazione universale, a work created by the artist in 1969 and composed of a series of photographs taken in sequence every twenty steps towards the west, in a pursuit of the sun that imperceptibly delayed the experience of sunset. Looking up, we notice two human heads, created by the renowned and multifaceted German artist Thomas Schütte, active since the late 1970s. These works are a good synthesis of two researches close to the artist's heart: on the one hand, the representation of the human face, a true reinterpretation of the bust theme of ancient sculpture, and on the other hand, the incessant experimentation with materials. These sculptures are in fact made of red Murano glass, a material that recalls ancient craftsmanship and calls us to look at the heads from several angles, discovering how the effects of transparencies and shadows seems to alter the characters' expressions. There is always something universal, elegant and powerful about Schütte's characters, even when they abandon monumental form or when they are transfigured into grotesque shapes. Before leaving the Main section of the fair, we dedicate a memory to Antonio Tucci Russo, who passed away this year: a man of great intelligence and vision, who left a deep mark on the history of contemporary art. Our journey continues in the neighbouring Chris Sharp gallery, on the corridor opposite the entrance, in stand number 4 of the Present Future section, dedicated to emerging talent. Now pause your player and press play once you are there.
When Artissima obtained the patronage of the province and the region in 1997, it expanded through initiatives such as "Coppie d'arte" and the exhibition Terrae Motus, curated by Achille Bonito Oliva, which presented the large-scale art project commissioned by Lucio Amelio following the earthquake that struck Campania and Basilicata in 1980. The '97 edition was marked by the opening of "Solofoto": a section dedicated to national and international galleries working exclusively with photography, with which an award was also associated in 1998. Over the next 25 years, public interest and the city's attention to photography increased exponentially, thanks to numerous exhibitions and the opening of specialised institutions such as Camera and the Gallerie d'Italia. Photography was always present at the fair, often also as a medium used by artists who do not call themselves photographers. Among this year's most suggestive research in the field of photography is the work of David Gilbert, an American artist proposed by the Chris Sharp gallery in Los Angeles. Born in New York and moved to California, Gilbert presents a series of works created this year during a period of residence at the Maison Dora Maar in Ménerbes, Provence. Although the final outcome of his work consists mainly of photographs, the underlying creative process involves an action on matter and is long, complex and reasoned. Everything starts with a composition, a real staging in which sculptures made of poor materials are placed, together with curtains and backdrops constructed by cutting out paper and cloth. Gilbert creates all the elements, then arranges, organises and photographs them to recreate the effect of a pictorial image. Observing the shots often leads him to modify the shapes and colours and take new photographs, in a continuous search for the perfect result. His works have something mysterious about them: they are generally dominated by a light, calm atmosphere, but the forms inside sometimes look like characters from a vaguely ghostly fantasy world. In this series, the gentle light of the South of France represents the impalpable material that builds the scene. This always enters laterally, invading the space without violence and drawing silhouettes, contrasts and interlacements. As a result, these enigmatic interior scenes appear to the observers as the expression of a sensitivity similar to that of Vermeer and the great Flemish masters. The journey now proceeds eastwards. We will move to stand number 2 in the Drawings section, the only one in the Italian trade fair scene dedicated to drawing and works on paper. Our stage will be the Capsule Shanghai Gallery, which overlooks the white corridor. Pause your player and press play when you are there.
The 2000 edition of Artissima was held in Palazzo Nervi: the architectural jewel, at that time still in use, that had been built in 1961 for the International Labour Exhibition. For its entry into the new millennium, the fair decided to present itself as a purely contemporary art fair, dropping the "modern art" label and clearly declaring its identity and its look towards the future. Besides a rich schedule on French art, the great innovations concerned the opening up of the fair's international outlook outside Europe: in just three years, the countries represented had more than doubled and for the first time a Chinese gallery exhibited at an Italian fair. The openness to the Far Eastern market and artistic productions also characterised the fair in the following decades. This year, there will be one gallery from Thailand, one from Korea, three from Hong Kong and two from China exhibiting. One of these is the Capsule Shanghai gallery, which is exhibiting the work of Hai-Hsin Huang in the Drawings section. Born in Taipei in 1984 and living in Brooklyn, this artist presents her vision as the gaze of a child who invites us to notice what our eyes are addicted to and observe the social dynamics of today's world with stunned distance. Her work always starts with a voracious collection of images, sometimes found online on magazine sites and institutions, but often recorded with pungent acumen by her own eyes. As a painter, she is accustomed to working on immense canvases, on which figures are as grotesque as they are real. For example, in 2019, the painter created a gigantic drawing satirically immortalising an entire art fair, with exceptional attention to detail of the works, gallery owners and visitors. Instead, the drawings presented at Artissima, so close to the language of comics and illustration, are the result of a two-month period spent in various cities in Italy. This Gran Tour of the contemporary absurd unfolds between Milan, Venice, Florence and Rome: amidst retouched faces, smartphones, gangs of gondoliers and cloned masterpieces under cellophane, familiar scenes are put on paper with iconic irony. The world of conventions and clichés, with some functional exaggeration, is presented by the artist without direct judgements: instead, she asks us to recognise ourselves and mirror ourselves in the collective neuroses, inviting us to smile with a slight bitterness and reminding us that irony towards our fellow women and man is also, inevitably, directed towards ourselves. The next stage will be the First Floor Gallery Harare, overlooking the red corridor at number 16. Pause the player and press play when you are there.
In 2003 Artissima celebrated its tenth edition by returning to the Lingotto Fiere. This edition also represented an important milestone in the institution's growth in terms of internationality: not only did an Argentinian and a Slovenian gallery exhibit for the first time, but the number of countries represented were more than twenty. In this growth of attention for non-Western scenes was the initiative entitled "A Look at Africa". Thanks to this tour, the public was able to engage with the practices of African artists, promoted by 13 galleries. The most recent editions have always featured galleries from the African continent. These include the First Floor Gallery Harare, established in the Zimbabwean capital in 2009 as an experimental space run by artists. The gallery, which is extremely active in terms of education and cultural promotion, presents for the Monologue/Dialogue section a comparison of the work of Shamilla Aasha and Troy Mazaka, two artists active in Zimbabwe who show certain affinities, despite belonging to different generations. Shamilla Aasha was born in 1977. After many years dedicated to painting, in 2018 she decided to devote herself to weaving abstract compositions with a sacred aspect to which she imparts strong pictorial connotations. The revival of ancient ways related to women's practice is combined with research into Japanese techniques such as sashiko and boron. Regular stitches and soft curves come together in a slow, meditative work that encapsulates personal stories. Along with traditional threads and discarded fabrics, Aasha inserts embroideries made from artificial hair that recall the extensions and wigs of the women of her country. Troy Makaza, a 1997 born artist who is finding international recognition, also starts with abstract painting. His works seem to present us with everyday objects or imaginary geographies, echoing the aesthetics of furniture wallpapers as well as maps. Colours are juxtaposed with powerful contrasts. The appearance of the works reveals characters that are both ancient and contemporary, familiar and alien. This strange ambiguity stems from the technique: after extensive experimentation, Makaza arrived at a material that is not recognisable at first glance, a pigmented silicone that gives his creations a soft material component only in appearance. We now head back to the central section of the fair and go to the Lawrie Shabibi Gallery. You will find it at stand number 5 in the Back to the future section, facing the white corridor. Now pause and press play once you are there.
The importance of Artissima in the contemporary world and its international character were recognised by the 1910s of the new millennium. The decade in which the fair found a permanent home at the Lingotto's Oval was characterised by the succession of Francesco Manacorda, Sarah Cosulich and Ilaria Bonacossa as fair directors. Among the trends that marked the period was a focus on the Middle East scene, which in 2019 took the form of the specific Hub Middle East project. The United Arab Emirates appears among the countries of origin of galleries such as Dubai's Lawrie Shabibi, which participated in the fair for the first time in 2015. Once again this year, a monographic project is on display for the curated Back to the Future section, dedicated to the rediscovery of female artists who worked in the period from 1950 to 1979. The artist chosen by the gallery is Mona Saudi, a Jordanian sculptor who passed away last year. Saudi discovered her artistic vocation at a very young age and left home at 15 without her family's permission to become a sculptor. During her long career as an artist and poet, she lived in Paris and Beirut and was part of the art department of the Front for the Liberation of Palestine. In his younger years, she grew up in an environment dominated by nature, from which the ancient archaeological remains of Roman civilisation and Nabataean ruins emerged. Her observation of the Middle Eastern landscape and its ancient artistic traditions were the elements that inspired her research in the field of sculpture, always applied to local stone. Balancing between the abstract and the figurative, her sculptures are the result of a profound feeling of spiritual communion with the earth. Openly inspired by the work of Brancusi, Chillida, Moore and Hepworth, and maintaining an ancestral connection to the art of ancient peoples, Saudi has for 50 years sculpted forms combining the organic and the geometric, which are presented to us as archetypes of the human condition. The artist has always tried to convey a sense of wholeness and peace in her universal work, as opposed to the speed and conflicts of contemporary life. At the gallery this year, we have the opportunity to confront her drawings, in which more complex forms are traced in ink and watercolour, with simple lines reminiscent of Matisse or Picasso. In this personal statement, she reveals a dynamism and chiaroscuro research that is unexpected for those accustomed to seeing her most famous works in stone. Our tour is coming to an end. We meet a few steps from here, at the HOA gallery stand on the pink B side corridor, number 18. Pause and press play when you are there.
Our tour can only end with a new feature of the 2023 edition. After retracing 30 years of the fair and being confronted with research that seems to have emerged from a forgotten time, we move on to South America, specifically Brazil, to conclude with a stage dedicated to the strictly contemporary. We are in the New Entries section, which each year allows us to get to know research from around the world promoted by emerging galleries exhibiting at Artissima for the first time. Here we meet HOA, which in its Manifesto introduces itself as an art organisation founded in 2020 with the declaredly anti-colonial mission of promoting Latin American art by freeing it from the exoticist prejudices of the Western gaze. Based in SãoPaulo, it showcases the works of Rafaela Kennedy and Renan Aguena that speak to us about life in Brazil in its current dimension. Rafaela Kennedy, born in Manaus in 1994, is an artist working in the field of photography based on a fundamental assumption: the photographic image has a legitimising and sociopoietic function: if something is not photographed, then it is as if it does not exist. Focusing on indigenous descendants and the transgender community, Kennedy produces shots that lie somewhere between reportage and fashion photography. Her elegant and poetic portraits, almost always taken in open settings, celebrate people belonging to discriminated groups, who have always experienced marginalisation even in the world of images. Her works are not meant to paternalistically describe a condition, but simply to portray people and, in doing so, to acknowledge their existence and normalise them, thus achieving a politically more meaningful action than any slogan. Instead, the 23-year-old self-taught Renan Aguena takes us to Rio de Janeiro, inviting us to shift our attention away from the neighbourhoods in the centre, normally considered the place of culture in the metropolis. His gaze instead rests on the large northern area of the city, the most popular one, where, together with the favelas, stadiums such as the Maracana and large samba schools are located. Through painting and collage he creates seemingly abstract views. Looking carefully at these compositions of brushstrokes, sketches and tears, we seem to catch a glimpse of walls, plants and figures. These works, through gaps and layers, describe the complexity of the suburban environment in which the artist lives and grew up. Aguena is also the author of rap music and on social media he associates his paintings with angry and poetic texts in which he recounts fears, frustrations and desires relating to urban social mechanisms, the same in Rio as in the rest of the world. Quoting one of his emblematic verses, which well summarises the contemporary artistic experience, we conclude our short, albeit very long, journey: "I am collective even on my own". We hope that this tour has stimulated and intrigued you. If you want another perspective on the fair, go back to the infopoint or the AudioGuides landing page and select another tour! See you soon and enjoy Artissima!