Biennale Arte 2019 highlights: Martin Puryear & Jannis Kounellis

Artists who have shown at Parasol unit

12 July 2019

Heading to Biennale Arte 2019 this summer? This year’s exhibition May You Live In Interesting Times is curated by Ralph Rugoff and hosts 79 artists/collectives at the Arsenale and the Giardini, including 90 national pavilions. Amongst the 21 collateral events sprawled across the city is The Spark Is You: Parasol unit in Venice, curated by Ziba Ardalan. This is the foundation’s first exhibition abroad and is presented at the Conservatorio di Musica Benedetto Marcello (very close to Accademia Bridge). It features a selection of contemporary Iranian artists who were selected for the affinity with openness and human interconnectedness that is evinced in their work.

According to the Financial Times‘ Jackie Wullschlager, the exhibition is “distinctive and one of the Biennale’s most appropriate though unusual site-specific projects.” (FT, Life&Arts, 4/5 May 2019)

Martin Puryear

At the Giardini, don’t miss a chance to visit Martin Puryear‘s exhibition Liberty / Libertà at the United States Pavilion. The 77 year old sculptor, renowned for his meticulously handmade abstract sculptures, exhibited a major solo exhibition at Parasol unit in autumn 2017, curated by Ziba Ardalan. For the US Pavilion, Puryear created a new body of powerfully pensive works about history, race, and freedom. Certainly a nod to the theme of liberty is his recent eloquent work Big Phrygian, 2010-2014. The five-foot tall cedar-wood sculpture, painted bright red, resembles the distinctive conical shape of a Phrygian cap. People of ancient Eastern Europe and Anatolia wore such caps, which in the modern world have come to signify the pursuit of liberty. The exhibition is commissioned and curated by Brooke Kamin Rapaport, Deputy Director, and Martin Friedman, Senior Curator, both of Madison Square Art in New York.

Martin Puryear, Big Phrygian, 2010-2014. Biennale Arte 2019.

Jannis Kounellis

At Fondazione Prada, presented in the spectacular 18th-century Palazzo Corner della Regina is the first major retrospective dedicated to artist Jannis Kounellis since his passing in 2017. The exhibition curated by Germano Celant is a Collateral Event to the 58th Biennale Arte. Retracing the artistic and exhibition history of Kounellis as a painter, sculptor and performance artist, the exhibition pays homage to the multidisciplinary artist with whom we had the privilege to exhibit at Parasol unit in November 2012. Developed in collaboration with the Kounellis Archive, the exhibition brings together 70 works from 1958 to 2016 from museums and important private collections in Italy and abroad. Known for using raw materials such as wool, coal, cotton, fire, soil and even gold leaf, Kounellis also explored the element of sound in his works, translating paintings into sheets of music which could be played, and even connecting musical instruments to flaming gas cylinders and wrought iron bells.

Jannis Kounellis, Fondazione Prada Venezia. Photo Agostino Osio – Alto Piano.